• Debra Fisher

Lockdown: measures easing but not for young people.

Whilst our country is going forward, cautiously easing lockdown measures, I can’t help but feel that young people are being left behind…..

I accept that a small number of primary school children have returned in England. I also understand that a select number of year 10 and year 12 groups may be invited to attend their secondary schools this month for a few days but beyond that, education and for that matter, extra curricular activities too, have remained virtual since 20th March 2020.

From what we are told, Covid-19 poses a low risk to children. Why then, can’t we let those children in education have their social distancing measures minimised and let them return to a normal life?

I know from running a dance business, how many of our students are feeling isolated and fed up with online schooling and activities. As a Parent, I also hear about how children are becoming increasingly withdrawn ……and with my own children, I can see how they yearn for social interaction. Whilst Social media plays a large part in their lives, it is certainly no substitute for being with friends. Suffice to say, I am worried about children’s mental health during this Pandemic and it would appear I am not alone:

For example, as referenced in the Sunday Times (14 June 2020), leading Psychologists are concerned that the delay in getting children and adolescents back to schools is a “national disaster” that is putting their mental health at risk. They say the isolation of lockdown is harming already vulnerable young people and worry that anxiety amongst young children specifically teenagers, is growing rapidly as a result of school closures during the Pandemic.

As things currently stand, the majority of young people will miss at least 3 months of being educated in classrooms. However, this could easily be more, if the current social distancing measures for schools remain the same, as many will find it just too hard to adapt their physical space to serve ALL pupils.

And as we all know, students at GCSE and A Level have been left in paralysis by the cancellation of their exams. Instead they will get grades for University/College based on their Teachers’ assessment. For some, this may prove beneficial but for those who prefer cramming for exams, it may result in a different story. Whatever the case, these children are likely to remember that this was not a decision upon which they were consulted; instead of a time that should have been filled busy with revision and taking of exams, boredom and frustration reigned; and ultimately many Students may receive grades that are not reflective of their true potential.

In addition what about those, like two of my children, who face GCSE and A Level exams next year? Will exams take place given how much they have missed? Will syllabuses be cut? What will be their options? Other sectors seem to be getting answers but for education there are still so many unknowns leaving room for anxiety to increasingly spiral amongst pupils..…..

When it came to those termed as being greatest at risk from Coronavirus, the Government, rightly so, imposed strict shielding measures. Surely then, applying the same principles, those deemed as being low at risk ie Children should have reduced social distancing guidelines?

By early July, assuming the rate of infection continues to remain low, most businesses will be open for the general public. However, for children little would have changed.

In a statement by the Prince of Wales (referenced in The Times, 18 June 2020) he warned of the “potentially devastating impact of the Coronavirus on young people” saying that “it was imperative to prevent this crises from defining the prospect of a generation”.

I echo the sentiment because as things stand today, there are likely to be life long consequences for the Young. The emotional scars are not likely to heal fast, nor are the educational gaps in learning likely to be filled for all Pupils. Some of their childhood/youth has been taken away forever and when many of this segment enter adulthood, they may face an economy deep in recession. How prepared mentally will they be? How educationally prepared will they be? What baggage will they carry from this experience? And how will it impact their choices in life? Only time will truly tell.

Getting ALL children back to school must therefore be a priority otherwise I fear this group of young people will be forever known as the Covid’19 Generation who sacrificed so much for others.

#lockdown #children #mentalhealth

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