The 'Back to School debate' - You have choice, so use it!

I rarely post links to things that are so divisive as the 'back to school' debate (a debate that many of us don't have the opportunity to have because of key worker status, employer demands, finances - whatever the circumstances) but I've seen so many posts about this from women to other women, including one on a London 'Mums' group this morning basically saying if you send your children back to school you are admitting your children are a burden and shouldn't have had them. To say I was shocked would be an understatement, but I was also just sad because this clammering of everyone to jump on another's situation or to close schools down 'until this is over/resolved' (unlikely to be September and a stark reality is that we may have to live with this for some time) is making many of us, me included, feel like terrible heinous parent's who are sending our babies out to certain catastrophe.

So here is an article published in the BMJ, internally peer reviewed (but not yet externally so we await that), partially funded by Southampton Clinical Research Facility that may allay some of the fears of those parents wondering what on earth they should do.

Even as non-medical people this is pretty easy to get the jist. It does not solve all issues, it does not give 100% confirmation of anything (but nor do the Gov, SAGE, the Unions etc - of which I am a member of the teaching unions and their latest stance not to engage is, IMO, irresponsible - we need these conversations not silly tactics) but it does give an idea of what the science we have so far is saying and it might just help calm some nerves if you are having the debate in your head about sending them back to school.

But mostly, please know that it is your right to keep your children home with you until you feel it is safe to send them back (the gov have confirmed no one will be penalised for keeping their children at home) and also know that it's okay for me to send my children back too, but that the schools do need to open and parents do need the right to decide for themselves.

Think about those kids dealing with loss of universal school meals in R/1/2 - who's feeding them? Many fall through the cracks of FSM so will be entitled to nothing. No one will know about them.

Think about those kids suffering from DV right now because everyone in their house is out of work, can't get benefits for weeks, and were already living in a volatile environment and are watching/seeing hideous things. No one will know about them.

Think about those kids in the middle of SEN assessments, desperately in need of support they can't access right now and who will go back to school so far behind their peers it will cause untold future damage to their education. No one is helping them.

Think about those kids where their parents are slipping into depression and aren't getting the care they need, but that no one is checking up on. No one will know about them.

Think about those kids who have a parent or parent's working from home, trying desperately to juggle their education with work, and beginning to sink under the pressure of those things. No one knows how much longer they can cope without cracking.

And remember that if schools only remain open to key worker children, all of this from children of other backgrounds will be missed.

So before we ask for schools to be closed - let's ask, why? If I have choice to NOT send my children back to school, why do we need to deny the right of other parents to send their children back? What do we gain from a blanket ban on school's remaining entirely closed other than to key workers? This is an individualised issue and to blanket everything one way only is so desperately short sighted.

We are all scared right now. I'm scared of going back onto campus to teach rooms full of people, I'm scared of visiting workplaces one after the other, day after day. I'm scared that my husband, also a key worker, has been in London working everyday as usual throughout all of this. But mostly I am petrified of the nastiness this is causing across social media.

What's good for the goose is NOT always good for the gander. So please, we live in a democracy, let's allow healthy debate and choices to be made, but let's also keep it rational and think about what the causes of these things might be to other's not in your/my situation.…/…/05/archdischild-2020-319474.abstract