Boris Johnson has marked the return from his summer holiday today by stressing the importance for children to return to school next week.
In a video message to parents, the Prime Minister said that it was “vitally important” for children to return to classrooms, saying: “It is far more damaging for a child’s development and their health … to be away from school any longer.”
Now is the time to get kids back to school. pic.twitter.com/yMxw595KUr
— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) August 24, 2020
“This is why it’s vitally important that we get our children back into the classroom to learn and to be with their friends.
“Nothing will have a greater effect on the life chances of our children than returning to school.”
Four of the UK’s Chief Medical Officers have signed a joint statement, alongside Deputy Chief Medical Officers, in support of the Prime Minister’s decision to reopen schools. Johnson added that the risk to children was “very, very, very small”.
He also brought attention to the potential mental health problems caused by the lockdown. He said: “The best way to tackle any mental health problems is to get our kids into school in September.”
England’s Chief Medical Officer, Professor Whitty, said over the weekend: “There’s also very clear evidence from the UK and around the world that children much less commonly get a severe illness and end up having to be hospitalised if they get symptomatic Covid.”
According to the Office for National Statistics’ data, 10 deaths were recorded as “due to Covid-19” in the aged-19-and-under category in England and Wales between March and June.
Unions have continued to oppose the reopening of schools. Dr Mary Bousted, the Joint General Secretary of the National Education Union (NEU), said during a Zoom meeting: “The Government’s making threatening noises about that. But in the end, they won’t be able to carry out their threats.”
Further revelations were also made earlier this month about union plans to use legal loopholes to keep schools closed.