Politically Speaking: Imran Ahmad Khan MP says 'now is the right time' for students to return to school
Wakefield MP Imran Ahmad Khan has his say on the practical and moral implications of students returning to school after almost six months out of the classroom.
The Covid-19 pandemic has dramatically altered the daily lives we all once enjoyed, perhaps most of all for parents, children and teachers.
During the last few months, children have continued their education in new and innovative ways, thanks in no small part to the monumental effort of their teachers and parents, who have regularly gone above and beyond in order to help their students and ensure that they receive the best possible education.
Classes have been taught online, parents have become tutors, and teachers have continued to support the children of essential workers.
Several schools have gone further to support their local communities, innovatively transferring their existing design and technology facilities to produce PPE for frontline workers.
As schools across England begin to reopen fully for the first time since March, we should all appreciate the amount of preparation teachers have undertaken over the past few weeks and months to make their classes and school a safe and secure environment.
Bubbles have been created for small groups of pupils, one-way systems have been implemented into hallways and corridors, and pupils have been asked to wear face coverings in communal areas.
With case numbers falling across the country in June and July, and the economy carefully reopening, the Department of Education set out a coherent plan to reopen schools and nurseries.
Now is the right time to enact this plan, and for our children to return to education.
The Government has evaluated the risks of reopening schools, and has, through a list of guidelines for teaching staff, provided a means to minimise the risk of Covid-19 transmission.
The four Chief Medical Officers of each nation of the United Kingdom have already declared in a joint statement that ‘children may have a lower risk of catching COVID-19’.
It is crucial that we do not hamper the long-term development of our children through the unnecessary, and potentially harmful, decision to keep schools closed.
Education is a right for every child.
It would be unfair to refuse children their right to learn, discover their passion, or be inspired into pursuing their dreams.
Fully reopening schools is the right thing to do for our children, both practically and morally.
However, there remains a risk of a second spike, and even the potential to see the return of localised lockdown measures. The Government has already reimposed specific lockdown measures in parts of West Yorkshire which have experienced a spike in Covid-19 cases, including Bradford, Calderdale and Kirklees.
It is therefore imperative that we all do our utmost to adhere to the current guidelines to prevent a second spike in Wakefield, posing a risk to lives, livelihoods and children’s education – something we can all ill afford.
I wish all pupils and teachers in Wakefield, and across the country, a very safe return to school this autumn term.