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MNHQ here - got a question about children returning to schools for the Independent SAGE?

(34 Posts)
BojanaMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 21-May-20 18:04:20


We thought you might be interested in an event the Independent SAGE is running tomorrow (Friday 22 May) at 12pm - this will be a live public consultation, discussing whether schools should start to reopen on 1 June.

The former Government Chief Scientific Adviser Sir David King is Chair of the Independent SAGE, whose aim they say is to: “provide robust, independent advice to HM Government with the purpose of helping the UK navigate COVID-19 whilst minimising fatalities”. You can find out more about what they do here and who the committee members are here.

This discussion will be hosted by Dr Michael Mosley and the panel of experts will take questions from a broad range of parties, including teachers, union reps, governors, and the general public.

If you’d like to share your questions, you can do so by emailing or by sending them to @independentSAGE on Twitter.

If you’d like to put your question to the experts in person via Zoom, then please get in touch with them via the email or Twitter account above.

You can also watch the event live on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter.

Comments on YouTube will also be sent to the scientists on the panel.

Tomorrow’s event will feed into the committee’s full report which will be presented to the government.

Hope this sounds like an interesting opportunity and thanks for reading!


OP’s posts: |
lljkk Thu 21-May-20 19:24:03

All the comments on their Twitter thread are from parents scared of the virus. People like me who are scared of our children's education being put on hold for yrs have no voice. I'm scared there will be many fewer future nurses, plumbers, midwives & electricians. I'm scared my kids' economic well being will be badly damaged for many yrs to come , not least by delays getting into training & Uni courses. I can't speak up on Twitter because it could hurt my job - my job security is messed up due to Lockdown, anyway. Only the hysterical voices are being heard. Those of us willing to tolerate risks now to prevent so much future damage are being shouted down. Frustrating.

KnobChops Thu 21-May-20 19:54:36

Agree with poster above. Policy is being driven by the hysterical. Endless lockdown with children being prevented from schooling and peer support will cause much more medium and longer term harm to this age group than covid ever could. The community circulation of this virus is now at low levels and the ‘risk’ to students and teachers far lower than it was in the weeks and months pre lockdown. It goes on too long you risk people being too frightened to go back into the real world. Their parents need to go back to work and pay for all the things society relies on to function. If we insist on social distancing schools will throw their hands up in the air as it’s too difficult to achieve. Distancing teachers from older Students and other teachers is however achievable, as is allowing teachers to wear protective visors and increasing hand washing and cleaning facilities.

RoseAndRose Thu 21-May-20 20:46:19

Surely SAGE can only answer about the science of the risks.

Not the policy decisions that the politicians make.

Selfsettling3 Thu 21-May-20 22:06:19

What is your medium term and long term advice for the children of parents who are shielding? When do you reasonably foresee or under which circumstances would it be advisable for them to return to school?

clarexbp Thu 21-May-20 22:17:30

Is children's mental health being put into the equation? Long-term isolation from peers cannot be a good thing.

NeverTwerkNaked Fri 22-May-20 07:25:13

@lljkk I totally agree. The impact in education is just being dismissed. I have children desperate to get back to learning. (I am working full time and doing what I can around that)

As is the impact on mental health. I know so many parents whose children are showing signs of depression from not getting to socialise

TravellingSpoon Fri 22-May-20 07:44:05

I agree with @lljkk. The voice of reason is being drowned out by screaming Hysteria. What consideration is being given to children's mental health, wellbeing and self esteem?

Herculesupatree Fri 22-May-20 07:53:11

I also agree with the posters above, the country needs to consider the risks of a lack of education, children’s mental health and the ability of parents to work and to contribute to the economy. All of which are looking like very pressing issues now likely to cause more devastation to young people than the virus.

Also as someone who grew up in an abusive environment I dreaded the 6 week summer holidays, how awful it must be for those children now. I can guarantee I wouldn’t have been allowed into school until it was mandatory.

I look at what my friends are posting on Facebook and I could cry, such hysteria and such reporting of fake news and misunderstood “facts”.

@BojanaMumsnet are these comments being passed onto the sage group?

Woodifer Fri 22-May-20 08:10:09

I think the risks resulting from infection to kids is probably quite low, though it’s harder to understand the risks of getting infected (and I’m worried about the Kawasaki type illness and the potential for longer term health impact as you get with rheumatic fever for example). BUT I just don’t think we should be doing anything to “ease” lock down right now because we just don’t have an effective test, trace and isolate system in place. My questions:
1. Testing can be carried out on 5 year olds, what about the 4 year olds who make up a large number of reception children?
2. For reception and year one where the evidence is for play based learning, what is likely impact of “Victorian” style desk layouts, separation from from usual friends and, removal of toys/ learning resources and “obsessive” hand washing and cleaning, on mental health and anxiety?

Herculesupatree Fri 22-May-20 08:39:41

@Woodifer I can answer no. 2 for you, that’s not what’s proposed! Despite it going around on twitter they’ve only been asked to remove toys that are hard to clean e.g. soft toys or toys with lots of small pieces. There is no requirement to remove all toys from R/Y1. Also this age group will not be expected to social distance but will instead be part of small groups/bubbles similar to what is happening in Denmark. So they will still be doing the play based learning.

I completely agree about the tests for 4 year olds though, I thought that was an odd announcement too! I’m pretty sure thee was a separate announcement that all school children can be tested!

Tidypidy Fri 22-May-20 08:44:28

Children in reception will have their own tray of toys and play dough that won't be shared. It is not the same as the usual free flow classrooms but is also not sitting at desks all day.
However I too fear for their future mental health as we're telling these children that they shouldn't touch other people, it can be dangerous outside etc.

Littlebelina Fri 22-May-20 08:52:58

I wonder if the age limit thing on the tests is because they are quite invasive (I think the stabbing can be uncomfortable)and potentially distressing to younger children (even for 5 year olds but I suppose a line has to be drawn)? I agree though that even if it had just been for politics, offering it to all school age children.

I don't get the "Victorian school argument", firstly (as pp says)that's not what the government guidelines are proposing and if individual schools are suggesting that I would be complaining (my son is year 3 but his school are going for the bubble system). Secondly, the Victorians didn't isolate children from their peers for over 2 months which has already happened to our children and surely will have a bigger effect on their mental health than sitting at a desk.

Woodifer Fri 22-May-20 08:58:11

“minimising contact and mixing by altering, as much as possible, the environment (such as classroom layout)..”

“ Where settings can keep children and young people in those small groups 2 metres away from each other, they should do so”

What’s a risk averse school to do?

Woodifer Fri 22-May-20 09:02:23

Sorry that “Victorian” is an unduly emotive word, but being at home while unusual is a familiar environment, but the school they going back to potentially very “unfamiliar”/unsettling.

Given that healthcare workers/ key workers kids in many cases have to be there, we are choosing to extend exposure from non-exposed groups to exposed groups.

Littlebelina Fri 22-May-20 09:04:46

So our school is keeping the key worker bubbles separate from the the returning years so risk of exposure is low.

KnobChops Fri 22-May-20 09:32:41

Those ‘dirty diseased’ key worker kids eh? Fucking outrageous!

Keepdistance Fri 22-May-20 09:53:32

What is the point returning for x weeks in bubbles 10-15 when the intention is to get more year groups back so no rooms or teachers left...?

Vulnerable parents encouraged to send their kids despite being advised to wfh and strictly SD.

All the effort in schools on formite transmission seems an almost complete waste of time when it is most likely transmitted by coughing and sneezing. So false sense of security.
You cant completely control toilet usage of 5yo children.

Is it possible people are shedding the virus when they next come into contact with it even if they have antibodies (ie what happemed with oxford vax)?

Herculesupatree Fri 22-May-20 09:54:40

Also from the gov guidance "We know that, unlike older children and adults, early years and primary age children cannot be expected to remain 2 metres apart from each other and staff. In deciding to bring more children back to early years and schools, we are taking this into account."

In terms of 'what do I expect a risk adverse school to do', I don't expect schools to be 'risk adverse', I expect them to balance risks carefully including the mental health of the children in their care. I also expect them to read all the guidance and implement it, not just pick and choose the parts that meet their own agenda.

beargrass Fri 22-May-20 09:54:45

The I/Sage interim report mentions nurseries only once:

"The Children’s Commissioner calls for attention to the wider social and economic costs of keeping schools closed and encourages intelligent, incremental reopening of schools, particularly nurseries and primary schools, responsive to local contexts and informed by rigorous testing and comprehensive data."

And then goes to not to analyse the impacts of closures and reopening of nurseries:

"Whilst there is little real-world data on the educational impact of school closures,we know that teachers in the most deprived schools are ​more than twice as likely​ to say that the work their students are sending in is of a much lower quality than normal (15% vs 6%). In the most deprived schools, 15% of teachers report that more than a third of their students learning from home would not have adequate access to an electronic device for learning, compared to only 2% in the most affluent state schools. ​12% of those in the most deprived schools also felt that more than a third of their students would not have adequate internet access.""

Does the I/Sage have any thoughts about nurseries reopening? They are constantly forgotten in nearly all discussions that I've seen. This is certainly no competition for who's impacted the hardest but this is a very difficult situation for small children to understand and they require constant care and attention. If they didn't, we would all save the cost of nursery (close to a second mortgage/rent) and work with them alongside us.

What does the I/Sage think about the impact on children's development and wellbeing, as well as on women's employment? Our place in public life is now at serious risk. We didn't move to one risk overnight. There are also safeguarding risks to lots of children and women that now seem to have been swept away in the discussion about CV19 which often feels unbalanced.

beargrass Fri 22-May-20 10:12:25

I would also like to know what I/Sage thinks about the "Kawasaki-like" (MIS-C?) illness in children. It's low in prevalence but does the group think that could change? If so, what does the group think should happen?

Teateaandmoretea Fri 22-May-20 10:20:59

Another one who agrees 100% with @lljkk

The interesting thing is that in real life everyone I know seems to be quietly gearing up to sending the children back and are baffled by the hysteria on social media (my daughter is in year 6)

KnobChops Fri 22-May-20 10:36:35

The problem with this government and it’s advisors (who lets not forget sit in on the supposedly independent SAGE) is that they take direction from the various nutters that populate social media and probably haven’t left their houses since lockdown. While the rest of us have to go out to work to keep them in services and fund this bollocks and told to just abandon our kids at home.

Teateaandmoretea Fri 22-May-20 10:43:05

@knobchops totally

MoggyP Fri 22-May-20 11:11:05

'BojanaMumsnet are these comments being passed onto the sage group?'

They won't be passed to the SAGE group, as this is Independent SAGE and they are not the same thing

(apologies if that's stating the bleeding obvious)

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