The Children’s Commissioner for England, Anne Longfield OBE has said on Wednesday that the government must prioritise schools over pubs and shops.
Longfield said that when planning for future lockdowns the government must think about this as children are too often an “afterthought,” which was seen in the first lockdown.
The Children’s Commissioner has published a paper which sets out key actions that are required to ensure children are “at the heart” of all future plans.
Longfield said that in future lockdowns schools should be prioritised over pubs, bars restaurants and all non-essential shops.
She added that reducing the transmission rate of coronavirus in the community is important, “but it should not be automatically assumed that this requires closing schools – except as a last resort.”
Schools minister Nick Gibb told Sky News, “It is hugely important for children’s education, for their wellbeing, that they do return to school and schools are working enormously hard in preparation for September to make sure that the risk of transmitting the virus within the school environment is kept to an absolute minimum.”
“We have issued very detailed guidance to schools about hygiene, about keeping children in these bubbles – class-sized bubbles in primary schools, year-group bubbles in secondary schools – making sure children aren’t unnecessarily mixing with other children in the school, staggered lunch breaks, staggered play times, doing everything that we can to minimise contact – one-way systems through schools and so on – so that children are safe in school.”