Updated: Mar 13
The government must act now, Covid-19 infections are increasing among secondary students!
We have reasons to be worried from the latest figures by the Department of Education, showing a spike of coronavirus infection among secondary school students. It is becoming extremely difficult to fully operate in our schools without the risk of exposing the teachers as well as students to the virus. Fear has gripped the education sector; it is under a genuine existential threat.
The government keeps on assuring parents it is doing all it can to ensure students are safe from the virus, interruptions to education can have long term implications, especially for the most vulnerable. Apart from being deprived of their right to education because of a global health crisis, vulnerable students now face the risk of regression especially in sciences, reading and math.
Students who have poor digital skills often have the least access to the hardware and connectivity required for effective remote learning. The pressure is also immense on every teacher for this ‘new normal’ to work. The complex control measures set by government to ensure safety of students in schools has begun weighing down on teachers, this is a new problem setting in and it could soon implode.
Geoff Barton, leader of the ASCL head teachers' union, said the continuing fall in the number of fully open secondary schools showed how difficult it was to "operate amidst rising Covid infection rates".
He continued, "Schools are managing complex control measures while delivering education for those in school as well as those who are at home self-isolating. The pressure is immense,”
Mr Bartonh as raised concerns about the mental well-being of staff across the country. Apart from ensuring safety and efficient education to the students, teachers are also exposed to Covid-19 infections, especially with return to face to face learning.
In its policy proposals to governments, the UN insisted in August 2020 that strengthening resilience of education systems will enable countries to respond to the immediate challenges of safely reopening schools and positions them to better cope with future crises. In this regard, governments could focus on capacities for risk management at all levels.
Paul Whiteman, leader of the National Association of Head Teachers said, "It is essential that government gets a grip on the new system so that no pupil or teacher is out of school for longer than they need to be."
On October 13th, UK’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) revealed it cautioned government that a failure to have tight coronavirus guidelines could have catastrophic consequences something which has not received the seriousness it deserves. The education sector is currently in this crisis as predicted; it is catastrophic.
Recommendations from the group which were not implemented by the government at the time included banning all contact between people from different households, closing all bars, restaurants, cafes, indoor gyms and personal services such as hairdressers, and moving all university and college teaching online unless absolutely essential.