Updated: August 24, 2020 9:09:17 am
Britain’s prime minister is asking parents to set aside their fears and send their children back to school next month when schools in Britain fully reopen for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic shut them down more than five months ago.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said it was the government’s “moral duty” to reopen the schools as he stressed that authorities now know more about COVID-19 than they did when the country went into lockdown on March 23.
Johnson’s comments came hours after Britain’s top public health officials issued a joint statement saying that children were more likely be harmed by staying away from school than from being exposed to COVID-19.
“This is why it’s vitally important that we get our children back into the classroom to learn and to be with their friends,” Johnson said in a statement released late Sunday. “Nothing will have a greater effect on the life chances of our children than returning to school.”
The statements come as parents and teachers have express concerns about reopening schools amid fears that social distancing measures won’t keep children safe. Unions have demanded that Johnson’s Conservative government make sure that social distancing measures and other protective procedures are in place to ensure the safety of students and staff.
Schools across the UK closed in March as the government sought to control the spread of coronavirus. Some students were allowed to return in early June, but classes weren’t mandatory and only about 18% of students nationwide took part.
The chief medical officers of England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales said in their statement that children are less likely to catch COVID-19 than adults and they have “an exceptionally low risk” of dying from the disease.
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