New guidance from the government, states that from the 29th November (2021), children in year 7 and above should wear face coverings in all communal areas in all education settings, unless they are exempt. Students in year 7 or above should also continue to wear face coverings on public and school transport, again, unless they are exempt.
Many teachers may have been more interested in watching their colleagues, dressed to the nines, minus face coverings, enjoying their activity, and missed the talk of plans to disrupt the education, wellbeing, and activities of the children they teach.
Teachers across the UK celebrated each other at the annual Pearson National Teaching Awards. on Sunday 28th November 2021. The event, which was held to recognise excellence in education, saw teachers being presented with awards for “making a difference” and “teacher of the year. Recognising these achievements may be appropriate in ordinary circumstances perhaps. but the children that they have been responsible for within their schools have suffered immeasurably throughout the last 20 months.
Children, through disproportionate rules and restrictions, have endured a disruption to their education and had their activities, proms, and exams axed. They never received recognition for their hard work and achievement, particularly through hard times. The Pearson event, could, therefore, be seen as distastefully badly timed.
Impact Likely To Be Severe
We have been made aware of the harm that restrictions have on individuals and particularly children and young people, however, new government guidance appears to have ignored evidence of that harm.
One paper highlighting the issues was by Carl Heneghan, together with Jefferson and Brassey, who conducted a review of research “The Impact of Pandemic Restrictions on Childhood Mental Health.” which was to show The paper provided evidence to show that the overall impact of COVID-19 restrictions on the mental health and well-being of children and adolescents is likely to be severe (source).
The team including Carl Heneghan who is a GP and Professor of Evidence-Based Medicine at the Department of Primary Care Health Sciences at the University of Oxford, and also Director of the Centre for Evidence-Based medicine, Oxford University, cited the convention of human rights for children Article 3.1 :
“In all actions concerning children undertaken by public institutions, the child’s best interest shall be a primary consideration’
They argued that “mental health should be a crucial consideration in deciding whether to increase social isolation and reduce prosocial behaviours for children and adolescents.” They were to also provide a citation to 17 systematic reviews reporting child and adolescent mental health.
Unsurprisingly, the government clearly ignored the report and trampled all over the Convention of Human Rights for Children when they set out their new guidance.
The guidance comes after the WHO declared that we have another “new variant” of the “COVID virus” to fear, namely “Omicron “that they have said, “could evade vaccines.”
The Daily Expose, 27th November 2021, reported that the WHO made those same “outlandish claims” last year about a “variant” based on “zero evidence”. Adding that “none of the laboratories are able to test for a particular variant. So how do South African officials, or officials of any other nation for that matter, know how many people tested “positive” or are infected with the Omicron or any other variant”?
Nevertheless, according to MPs, the variant will lead to “chaos” in schools, they warned, with children set to be forced into self-isolation by the new rules. The rules will be an attempt to prevent the spread of the mutant strain of Covid-19, which itself has never been isolated. Close contacts of those who test positive for omicron (with tests that cannot distinguish a virus and also have 100% false-positive results) will have to self-isolate for 10 days, with the Government confirming that this applies to children.
Education Secretary – We Will Continue to Prioritise Children’s Wellbeing
Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi said: “The news of a new variant – the so-called Omicron variant – will have understandably caused concern for people across our country, including our teachers, wider education and childcare staff, parents, pupils and students”.
“We are already taking targeted and proportionate action as a precaution while we find out more information about the new variant. As we do so, we will continue to prioritise children’s and young people’s education and wellbeing, making sure education and childcare settings are as safe as possible and children continue to benefit from classroom teaching.”
“We are working with education and childcare settings to enhance safety measures where needed, including introducing isolation for 10 days for close contacts of suspected Omicron cases”. Department for Education – GOV.UK
Thoughts of more restrictions and isolations do not prioritise children’s wellbeing and ministers warned that the move risks a repeat of the situation during the summer term when thousands of healthy children were told to stay at home. Steve Baker MP, deputy chairman of the COVID Recovery Group, said the measures “will cause chaos including collateral harms like damage to children’s education”, adding: “The Government needs to explain when all of this will be brought to an end.”
Bubbles and Axed Activities
Unfortunately, the “collateral harms” were not being considered by Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the National Education Union (NEU), the biggest education union in the UK, who calls for a return of bubbles. He said that bubbles should be brought back to limit transmission within schools, along with staggered break and lunch times.
The bubble system would mean that classes and year groups were kept separate from each other, and according to Courtney, schools should not be doing in-person Christmas performances.
“It might be best to look at doing the performance and broadcasting it on Zoom, rather than having parents in the school” He argued on Sunday night and also, for all in-person nativity plays and other Christmas activities to be axed.
We at the Expose, have previously reported that face masks have weak efficacy if they work at all
, More importantly, the wearing of facemasks causes both physical and psychological harm to the wearers, particularly children, as seen in this article – Return of the Face Mask: The Cloth of Compliance. Also, it has been recently reported that they are to blame for a 23% dive in young people’s development.
Mental Health Problems
Importantly children have also been subjected to fear due to propaganda campaigns aimed towards them, seen in an outrageous tagline from Matt Hancock “Don’t kill granny with coronavirus.”, encouraging young people to refrain from visiting their often lonely, isolated grandparents. They were in isolation themselves, and not allowed to see friends and their wider family. Isolation was a form of punishment pre-pandemic, now the young people of the UK were forced to normalise it.
The emotional costs of restrictions on children and young people have been well documented throughout the COVID-19 crisis. In July 2020, 1-in-6 children were reported to have significant mental health problems Among those with probable mental disorders, aged 5 to 22 years, 58.9% reported having had sleep problems, with young people aged 17 to 22 years more likely to have reported the problem (69%) than those aged 11 to 16 (50.5%) and 5 to 10 (52.5%).
Unable to Cope
The Prince’s Trust Tesco Youth Index also found that one in four young people (26 percent) by winter 2020, admitted that they felt “unable to cope with life” since the start of the pandemic. This number increased to 40 percent among those not in work, education, or training (NEETs). Half of 16 to 25-year-olds (50 per cent) say their mental health has worsened since the start of the pandemic according to Jonathan Townsend, UK Chief Executive, T 1 (source)
Rise Reported in Self Harming and Tics
Around the same time in 2020, Ofsted (the school’s inspectorate in England) identified a worrying increase in self-harm and More pupils experiencing eating disorders since the first lockdown. Ofsted explained that when asked about the mental well-being of pupils, leaders “across several schools” reported increased cases of pupils self-harming.
This mainly took place during the period when schools were closed to all but the most vulnerable pupils and those of key workers. while lockdowns evoked an ‘explosion’ of children with disabling tic disorders. The Ofsted report also noted that many of the children had not previously been identified as vulnerable” (source).
Children and Antidepressants
This surge in mental health problems also saw an increase in children being prescribed antidepressants according to the NHS. New figures reveal that in 2020, there were 231,791 prescriptions for the drugs issued to children aged between five and sixteen.
The guidance from the health service says that that the drugs should be offered to under-18s only in cases of moderate or severe depression alongside talking therapies, yet there were restrictions on interventions due to the pandemic.
Chief inspector of Ofsted, Amanda Spielman said that also “Referrals to social care fell and have still not fully returned to more usual levels as schools have returned, raising concerns that neglect, exploitation or abuse is going undetected.”
Children Should Be Exempt
Parents have called for children to be exempt from the new self-isolation rules. Molly Kingsley – a co-founder from UsforThem, the parent campaign group, said: “We learnt from summer that forcing healthy children to isolate was an unmitigated disaster and it is unforgivable to do that again. Adding, “If they don’t exempt children it will cause chaos in the classrooms. Asking healthy children to quarantine is not a harm-free measure, it is harmful to children who are not at serious risk from the illness. At this point in the pandemic, it is shameful for the Government not to have an exemption for children.”
Let Them Be Free
There is no excuse now, we have seen the results of the harmful effects to the children from the disproportionate, nonsensical restrictions placed upon them for the last 20 months, we cannot advocate these rules continuing let alone getting stricter.
There is no justification for these harmful restrictions and children’s wellbeing absolutely must now take priority and the Convention of Human Rights for Children must be adhered to. Children should be allowed to live freely, socialise, and have the childhood that most of us have been fortunate to have.
To join UsForThem – https://usforthem.co.uk/take-action/join-a-group/
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