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Pediatricians call for 'complete reopening' of schools in September

11:29 12/08/2020

A group of Belgian pediatricians advising the government on its coronavirus response has recommended that all children return to school full-time from 1 September, despite growing numbers of confirmed cases in recent weeks.

"Without meaning to, our society has allowed children to doubt the meaning and importance of education," the Belgian Pediatric Covid-19 Task Force wrote in an open letter. "Removing children from schools also suggested that they were dangerous places, a totally false idea that we must very quickly correct."

The pediatricians added: "The future of 2.3 million young people will be seriously jeopardised if we do not grant them the attention they deserve. The complete reopening of schools plays an essential role.

"Doing 50% or even 80% is not enough. Distance learning is not enough. Schools must be given the means, both logistical and human, to allow a total reopening and offer a full-time education to all children."

They also pointed to the low number of coronavirus infections recorded at summer camps: "We know that the health risks for children and adolescents are minimal and that the transmission of Covid-19 is limited. We therefore see no medical reason to prevent a complete reopening of schools."

In their letter, the taskforce say children returning to school should not be expected to respect the 1.5-metre safety distance among themselves, but that distancing should be maintained between children and adults. They also support the use of facemasks by pupils aged 12 and over.

At the end of June, the education ministers of Belgium's three language communities agreed on a common plan for the organisation of the new school year, using a "traffic light" system based on the evolution of the pandemic, which could vary from one municipality or province to the next.

Regardless of the phase Belgium is in, nursery and primary children are expected to return to school as normal. If a child falls ill, their "bubble" (class) will be sent home and told to self-isolate.

In secondary schools, a return to 100% lessons in class is not expected until a vaccine becomes available and collective immunity has been acquired. In a yellow phase - where the virus is still present and spreading slowly - secondary pupils will return to class four days a week.

If the virus spreads more rapidly - the "orange phase" - secondary school classes will only be for two days a week, with remote learning the rest of the time. The same applies in a red phase, a widespread outbreak, with further restrictions on extra-curricular activities.

Written by The Bulletin

Comments

PGerrard

So many questions with this plan and with the conclusions of these paediatricians. They say "kids will doubt the importance of education." But, as scientists, how do they know this? They say children will see schools as dangerous places? Again, scientists should have fact-based research. Lacking this, it is merely a questionable opinion, at best. At worst, it is a self-fulfilling opinion. Speaking of the mental impact on children, what about the psychological impact on children should their parents become sick? Physicians are remiss if they don't take this into account. Will the kids' futures be "seriously jeopardized" if all schools don't re-open? Again, research and data -- not speculation -- is needed. Some research exists (https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2020/07/school-openings-across-globe-sug...) but it is far from conclusive, and not certain enough to "do no harm."

Aug 27, 2020 21:31
PatriciaC

Opening schools before the epidemic is over can have serious consequences. I agree that distance learning spoils discipline. When the students are at home, their homework is done by special services such as college essay help online and the students bad learning information, but this is a serious compulsory precaution against a terrible virus

Sep 30, 2020 11:20