A second national lockdown has been announced in England with one crucial difference: schools to stay open.

The Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, said on Saturday: “Our senior clinicians still advise that school is the best place for children to be, we cannot let this virus to damage our children’s future any more than it already has.”

However both regional mayors across England and senior members of the Conservative party have criticised the plans. What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments below.

Government reject plans for school to stay open will lead to longer lockdown

Cabinet minister Michael Gove said: “We want to to keep schools open.”

He told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show that “the Government was taking the necessary measures to keep schools open.”

Leading headteachers backed the Government saying that additional school closures would lead to “irreparable damage” to children’s education and mental health. The children’s commissioner, Anne Longfield, said it would be a “disaster” if they were to close when the country goes into lockdown again on Thursday.

Sir Daniel Moynihan, CEO of Harris Federation, which is London’s biggest academy chain, said:

Young people have already lost a large chunk of their education and disadvantaged children have been damaged most.

Aside from the loss of education, there is rising evidence of mental health and child protection issues under lockdown. The closure of schools would more, probably irreparable, damage on those who can afford it least.

Victoria Bingham, headmistress of South Hampstead High School added:

Schools can be a place of inspiration and happiness.

Lockdown has been terrible for the mental health of young people. They need schools to stay open.

Could keeping schools open do more harm than good?

Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham and Liverpool City Region Mayor Steve Rotheram countered, saying that education institutions should close to reduce the spread of the virus more quickly.

Infection rates among secondary school children “appear to be steeply increasing”, according to the latest survey by the Office for National Statistics.

An estimated 2% of children in Year 7 to Year 11 tested positive for the virus in the most recent week of testing, the highest positivity rate of any age group except sixth-formers and young adults.

Sir Jeremy Farrar, a member of the Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), told the Andrew Marr Show that keeping schools open was the “big difference” between the new restrictions and the lockdown in the spring.

Because we have delayed the onset of this lockdown it does make keeping schools open harder.

We know that transmission, particularly in secondary schools, is high. 

The Manchester and Liverpool mayors said at a joint press conference that they wanted to see a period of two weeks’ closure towards the second half of November, giving schools some time to prepare online learning.

Mr Burnham said: “That would create the conditions for the biggest drop in cases that we could achieve and it would then create the conditions for some kind of Christmas for more families, because they need it right now.”

Without this, the mayors said they feared their regions would return to the the restrictive tier three measures.

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