The government has decided not to reopen many schools throughout the U.K amid the surge in COVID-19 cases.


For many secondary schools, the start of term will be delayed by up to two weeks. Additionally primary schools in areas of South-East England with very high rates of coronavirus infection are also postponing their opening date. With the daily coronavirus cases reaching 50,000, the highest on record, there is no question as to why the government is urgently trying to suppress the virus.


The Department for Education (DfE) has focused on closing schools in London rather than the rest of the UK as cases per 100,000 are a lot higher. In regard to their solutions, the DfE has indicated that secondary schools in England will be asked to implement a ‘staggered return’ at the beginning of the Spring term for pupils other than those due to sit public exams in 2021 and children of key workers. These schools are being asked to teach virtually to avoid the spreading of COVID-19 in schools.


The closing of schools, while having benefits, can be hugely problematic for much of the population. During the lockdown period, many parents struggled with looking after their children, particularly young children whilst simultaneously working from home. Having to help their children with their school work or just keeping them entertained, often distracted parents from their own work. Furthermore, children also struggled with day-to-day life at home. Unable to see friends, they can quickly lose motivation, struggling to focus on their school work. Josh, 10 explains his experience with school in lockdown and why he doesn’t want schools to continue closed at the start of the new year,


“It was often challenging to keep up with the work during the period of home schooling. Also I would say that work was quite inefficient as it was frequently repeated from past lessons. Additionally I found it very hard not seeing my friends. I want school to continue as lessons are much more productive when you can easily interact with your teacher and socialise with classmates.”


Pupils in year 10 and 12 are not allowed to return to school under the current restrictions. This could be very problematic as these are crucial years for study in preparation for exams. Without a doubt something has got to be done to tackle COVID infections but picking on schools may not be the best solution. With the availability of mass testing, it could be a good idea to allow students with negative COVID-19 results to resume study at school, especially those within crucial age groups.


A mother of a year 10 student, Zoe, 47 explains her thoughts on the recent news about school at home, “My concern is for children’s mental well-being if schools continue to be shut for several weeks. There are no easy answers to the current crisis but I think mass testing would be very beneficial.”


Overall I would say that closing schools does have its benefits but if people take a COVID-19 test and stay within their bubbles at school, it should be a relatively safe place to be. On the contrary, when exercising in the park, I often see people in large groups. If more was done to enforce social distancing rules, that would most likely make a bigger difference to the rise in COVID-19 cases than closing schools. Therefore it is unnecessary to close them.