Commenting as the Children's Commissioner for England, Anne Longfield, today (Wednesday 5 August) calls for schools to be prioritised in any future coronavirus lockdowns and to remain open, Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, said:
“We agree with the Children’s Commissioner that it is vital to get children back into school as soon as possible. Virtual learning can never replace the many benefits of face-to-face teaching and care. We also agree that it might be sensible to prioritise the attendance of younger pupils in the event of further restrictions, as we know they find it hardest to access online learning and require more support from parents.
“But it is obviously important to prevent a worsening covid-19 outbreak as schools return. The last thing anyone wants to see is the re-opening of schools leading to a resurgence in the prevalence of the virus. There are many factors that will contribute to this, most of which are entirely outside a school’s control. School leaders are currently preparing their schools for all children to return in September, and are following all the government and health guidance they have been given in order to make it as safe as possible. But the success of September’s return to school rests as much on what happens outside the school gates as within. The government needs to ensure that everyone knows what actions they should be taking to keep everyone safe – we’re all going to need to work together to be successful.”
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