ITV GMB’s Dr Sarah Jarvis issues urgent advice to pupils heading back to school

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Schools across Scotland began reopening on Tuesday, with all primary and secondary pupils expected to return to classrooms full-time by August 18. Local authorities across the country are taking different approaches with the time frame for reopening for the first time since March 20. Dr Sarah Jarvis has reassured parents as she explained children from deprived areas must get back to school now or continue struggling in lockdown.

Speaking to ITV’s Good Morning Britain (GMB), Dr Jarvis said: “Parents can be very reassured that the risk to children is very small.

“The royal college of paediatrics and child health came out and said the number of children who had previously been told they needed to shield, a lot of them probably didn’t need to worry.

“I know we’ve all been waiting for this new risk strategy tool to say who is at higher risk.

“But certainly for younger children, you really don’t need to worry very much.

“There’s never going to be no risk but we need to bear in mind that there are two million kids in this country who live in families where there’s domestic abuse, drug and alcohol problems, mental health problems; they need school desperately.

“We’ve seen children from deprived areas have struggled much more under lockdown because of lack of homeschooling often because they haven’t got the facilities at home.

“We’ve just seen the exam results are likely to affect deprived people more.

“If we want to think about the future of this country then we need to recognise that deprived children are going to lose out much, much more than more affluent areas and for them, the need to go back to school is even greater.”

It comes as a total of 45 percent of those questioned in an NASUWT teaching union survey said they do not think it will be safe for pupils to return, with 42 percent uncertain.

More than two-thirds (67 percent) do not feel prepared to go back to their school or college and the vast majority – 87 percent – feel anxious about returning when it is reopened to all pupils.

Health minister Edward Argar said face coverings for pupils was “not something that’s in prospect at this point”.

He told BBC Breakfast: “On the basis of the many studies we’ve seen so far, I think parents can have confidence that it’s safe for their children to go back to school and it’s very important their children do go back to school so they can continue their education.”

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Asked about masks, he said: “Well, that’s not something that’s in prospect at this point. We’ve been clear and the Department for Education have been clear that that poses a challenge to actually the ability to teach and the ability to learn in certain contexts.

“We don’t think that that’s necessary at this point, not least because we are essentially setting up different class groups or year groups as social bubbles.

“But at the moment we believe the measures that have been put in place around social distancing, around those bubbles and around the facility to test if necessary, are the right ones to continue to make our schools safe when they reopen.”

He added: “What we’ve done is, we’ve been – quite rightly I think – willing to be guided by the scientific advice on things like masks and other aspects of this which, as you’ll have seen over those past three or four months, has evolved.”

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