Saturday, January 23, 2021
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Children are our future. Why aren’t we putting them first?

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APRIL 2020. We all remember it well. It was the beginning of our imprisonment. For sure at first many thought our world was in danger, so It made sense to get a grip on what we needed to do.

Our children, fresh from planning exams, sporting events, school performances and community theatre, suddenly had their whole lives upended.

The evidence showed children were not at risk.

Three weeks to save the NHS turned into eternal restrictions. Parents began to worry about their jobs; many were lost, causing a whole new level of worry for families. Children were not immune to this stress.

Secondary schools began to get some online learning together late spring, but for most it was just about grabbing homework from Google classroom. Some worked well at their online classes. Many didn’t and they seem to have little hope of ever catching up. Some children will have had their futures irretrievably damaged.

Summer brought some respite but in September, with the return to school, came the masks, distancing, and hygiene. Kids had many new safety rules to follow and could be disciplined for failing. It was a lot for them to handle.

Most sane adults would have said ‘Enough’, and stopped this torture well before this point.

It is indisputable our children have suffered greatly; academically, emotionally and mentally.

Now we hear many can’t go back on time in January.

Even more abhorrently we’re told they must now test negative to access school!

Why, because children are suddenly a bigger risk to adults based on inconclusive evidence about a more infectious variant?  We have to protect the adults, we are told (over 99.5 per cent of whom don’t need it).

What about the children? They are not at risk. Up to Christmas schools had been working well at keeping infections at bay and there was a relatively good rhythm to life, albeit sub-optimal, for most schools. At least the children had started to have this to look forward to.

So, at what point in all of this do we start to put our children first? They have a human right to education and this is not predicated by a test. Children are not here to protect us. It is our duty and in all our interests to help them to be schooled in the round for a successful life.

Just what do we think we are we doing, when what is being done cannot easily be reversed?

Healthy children must be able to access education freely, and without pre-condition. In addition, there should not be any forced medicalisation of the school environment. Schools are for learning. The government have provided no scientific evidence for asymptomatic transmission, nor for the increased infectiveness of the new variant, and all of this to be enacted without a viable risk/benefit analysis as per usual. It’s a complete abrogation of duty.

I would suggest that mass testing of healthy children will throw up a good number of false positive results and cause more damaging and unnecessary school closures.

Above all there must be no further abuse and assault on our children’s learning and wellbeing. All children must return to school as normal in January and no pupil who is symptom-free should be asked to have a test.

If we cannot put our children (who are our future) first, then what have we become?

As a parent, and someone who is passionate about children’s education, I implore that we look our government in the eye and say: ‘No more. This will not pass.’

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Jane Naumkin
Jane Naumkin was a long-term Conservative Party activist but no longer! She works in HR and led a successful campaign to keep open a small Church primary school in Cheshire.

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