We are told repeatedly that it is necessary for schools to remain open for the sake of children’s education. Yet, could it in fact be better for them if schools were closed?

Schools across most of the U.K. are still open, despite the second lockdown. Coronavirus cases, however, are rising rapidly in schools, with secondary schools currently being the most significant spreaders of the virus. We are told, then, that the negative effects of schools closing outweigh the effects of the coronavirus, and so it is in the interests of the next generation to keep schools open in order to prevent a further increase in the already worrying attainment gap.

However, as cases grow, entire cohorts of students may be required to self-isolate, with no practical way to catch up on missed learning. Furthermore, there is a steadily increasing shortage of teachers, with over a dozen staff members having to self-isolate at a single time in some schools.

With no end in sight to the spread of CoViD in schools, we seem to be approaching a breaking point by which most students are receiving a lower quality of education than they would if schools were moved entirely online. The argument that in-person school attendance is quintessential to keeping children sufficiently educated holds little water in the face of current events, and yet, it continues to be the official line of the government. The question, then, has to be asked—are children really being kept in school during the second wave of a global pandemic for their education, or simply so that their parents can go to work and contribute to the economy?