Kilmorie School not opening

I am aware this may not be a popular opinion but Kilmore school (and the teaching unions) not taking the children back is an utter disgrace. This is going to hit children very hard, so hard that many will never recover, particularly those reliant on the education s system for books, stimulation and structure. There are children of working single mothers who have been unable to do anything but play computer games for 8 weeks. Children have distinct developmental windows, and once they are missed you do not get them back. This will hit those in lower socio-economic brackets brutally hard.

With all due respect to those who have had loved ones impacted by the coronavirus, its is actually rapidly exposing itself to be a far less risk than advertised, particulrly for children. It’s understandable that teachers who have pre-exisiting health conditions to absentee themselves – as per government guidance – as it is these whom overwhelmingly succumb to the virus . However, we are no longer at epidemic levels of covid-19 prevalence in the UK (0.27% of the population infected, where 0.4% is the low end required to be “epidemic”), and all-cause deaths have slipped back below average.

With no serious pre-existing conditions, the young-ish and healthy are far more likely to be hit by lightning (49 occurrences per annum in UK) than to die of covid-19 (33 in England under age 40, of which only 3 under the age of 19).

The bottom line is that the vast majority of people recover. And there is very low risk:

Stanford’s Nobel laureate Michael Levitt (biophysicist and professor of structural biology) found on the Diamond Princess cruise ship, a virtually perfect sealed petri-dish disproportionately filled with the most susceptible age and health groups that despite the virus spreading uncontrolled onboard for at least two weeks, infection only reached 20% of passengers and crew.

For anyone asking if I would teach in a classroom the answer is an empathic yes. And I am sure there are insightful and committed teachers who would also like to step to the crease at this time. The education and socialising of these children is essential, not to mention the need for the utterly nuked economy to get back on track – the deaths from which will far outnumber those of corona. This is not economy versus people – as some appear to think – the economy IS people. The lockdown will mean higher taxes, higher borrowing and therefore less investment

The reopening of schools in 22 European countries has not led to any significant increase in coronavirus infections among children, parents or staff, this is even reported by the Guardian.

Kilmorie and other schools should hang their heads in shame. It either believes in education or not. It was a chance to be a hero and you fluffed it. All you have shown is where your true priorities lie.

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Argue all you like about schools going back, but please don’t use that hurtful sort of argument. More people have died in the UK in a just a few months as a result of being infected with this truly awful virus than civilians killed by enemy action in the UK in half of WW2.

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I am also very disappointed with this decision which is at odds with current Government guidance, though note that guidance will be reviewed and finalised on May 28th, and Lewisham’s own message is cautious: https://lewisham.gov.uk/myservices/education/schools/school-closures

It is however unclear where the decision came from, was it the local school or school Governors that took the decision? Or was it wider factors?

Kilmorie had also previously sent a survey to parents asking their opinion on return to school - it would be very interesting to see those results, but I guess we probably won’t.

So how about a quick light-hearted straw poll here? What do parents feel about local schools re-opening:

  • Open local schools to all years from June 1st
  • Open Reception, Y1 & Y6 from June 1st (current govt. guidance)
  • Open later, during summer holidays if needed
  • Remain closed until new term in September
  • Remain closed for longer
  • Don’t care
  • Other (please add comment)

0 voters

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My view is that parents should have the choice, but that schools should open regardless (and with only a selection of all of the social distancing policies they’re putting in place). Children and adults under 45 are at far lower risk of dying than those over 65 by a massive order of magnitude and the virus is self-evidently petering out anyway, so the risk of infection is now significantly lower. Why are children and their parents under house arrest? If the objective is to stop it spreading amongst those of pensionable age, do that instead.

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This is always going to be the challenge of moving from lockdown. Go too early and there’s the risk of other phases (listen to the excellent Radio 4 programme on the 1918/19 pandemic where there were 3 distinct pulses between period of quiet (there were differences - the pandemic hit the younger generation probably because of returning troops, no antibiotics). So I do agree that a quiet period now does not mean it won’t flare again.

But it also is true that if you keep a hard lockdown for too long then the economic impact will be severe (possibly on the lines of 1929) and that will have severe impacts, including fatalities as well.

The problem is that it is likely to take a considerable time before a vaccine - so we will have to live with this for some time to come - but there will be a need to get things going. And large parts of the economy do not really work with 2 mtr social distancing (leisure, hospitiality, but also office areas like Canary Wharf).

A gordions knot. I think regular checking and tracking of local hot spots is perhaps the way.

Also people will have different attitudes to risk. Would I want to fly at the moment - frankly no (even if a plane is half load its recirculated air); do I feel able to go for a long walk - yes, no problems. A restaurant, sit-down, inside? Hmm, a bit undecided…but…if its got a good hygene rating and there a re no local hotspots (that tracing again), in a couple of months…yes.

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This from a couple of days ago is interesting: https://unherd.com/2020/05/is-it-safe-to-reopen-schools/

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I wonder if there is anything coming in the near future which might change this…

Maybe, but couldn’t we try to make hay while things are on the up (or, err, R is down), while learning from before and lockdown properly - hard and fast - if things change towards the worse?

The government advice, while suggesting reopening on the 1st, already states the following: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/closure-of-educational-settings-information-for-parents-and-carers/reopening-schools-and-other-educational-settings-from-1-june

There is also cost to lockdown, which will be seen in the near future too…

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Hi Thomas, whilst it’s clear to see that you are disappointed with the school’s decision I think you are wrong to call it a disgrace. There are many reasons why the school may have come to this decision, based on feedback gained from parents this week. As the school has stated when informing parents they do not feel they have been given enough time to address all the issues raised and and say they “look forward to welcoming the children back when they can be confident of meeting all the safety measures of the Government guidance”.
Now, if only we had a Government that could provide us all with some transparent and clear advice and guidance. (Leadership even?). Let’s see if they manage to get the Track and Trace system up and running as promised. Could provide some much needed confidence within the community.

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I agree with all this. Less so with the failure to acknowledge the massive effect of lockdown.

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If some parents don’t want to send their kids to school, I doubt they’d be forced to.

It seems wrong for a group of concerned parents (and union-organised teachers) to prevent any children returning to school.

School is vital, not just for the children’s futures, but also for the economy.

The schools should re-open.

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All schools have received the same guidance at the same time. Most are making preparations to return.

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Yes Chris, schools should reopen… and they will, when the Government has assured parents, teachers (and the Unions as you say) that the time is right. So far we have bungled announcements, U-turns and backtracking (maybe the tracing App isn’t important - Matt Hancock). All everyone wants is to know that it is safe for all children, relatives and staff… surely not too much to ask?
When our PM decides to pop-up again soon hopefully he will have some more reliable and consistent guidance for us all.

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Yet it is ok for the posh private schools to go back when it’s safe to do so? How shocking that some people feel it’s boring well sorry it’s not meant to be fun it is worrying times and so wrong to think that we’re all in this together.
I find it disgraceful how the government have handled this. Not being able to be by a loved ones side at such a crucial time when they are scared is horrible.
Again it seems for some a major concern to there plans. We all had plans missed birthdays etc so why do some people feel there situation is superior to others??

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It’s not safe for all children, relatives and staff. Nor will it ever be!

The question is - what’s a sensible level of risk to take, given a) a significant number of people now have anti-bodies, b) children can be mostly separated from elderly / vulnerable people and c) there’s a huge societal cost in keeping schools closed.

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Correct. Again, from the current government guidance:

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The school has ample space to accommodate one year group (year 6) even in the unlikely event all parents of students in that year group sent their children in. I could understand there being some logistical difficulties in accommodating the return of three separate year groups (reception, year 1 and year 6) simultaneously. But to not begin teaching any pupils at all on June 1st is a joke. The remote learning materials provided by Kilmorie have been excellent but their teachers have not been delivering online lessons for example. They are not exactly overworked at present. The threat to them from teaching in person is minimal - they are more likely to contract Covid-19 from their weekly shopping forays or from sunbathing in the park with friends.

Other schools are preparing to welcome those three year groups back on June 1st. They are employing simple measures - drop off times staggered by 15 minute intervals, children asked to wear PE kit to school so they don’t need to change during the day, bringing their own pencil case and bottle of water to prevent using water fountains etc.

Kilmorie is a fantastic school with phenomenal leadership. But they have really let themselves down here. One can only guess at the factors at play but I dare say the teaching unions have played a significant part, compounded by Lewisham council essentially absolving itself of responsibility by leaving the decision to individual schools, which is cowardice of the highest order. As the OP states, delaying the return of pupils for much longer will have very serious consequences for many pupils.

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It’s a very odd decision and needs justifying.

If there’s one thing the science does agree on it’s that the risk to children from Covid is tiny. Anyone who talks about the safety of children either doesn’t understand the data or is trying to sell you something.

Children are being kept out of education to protect adults. I think we need to start being honest about this, and think about whether the costs outweigh the benefits.

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A couple of points:

  • the approach taken by the school’s management team is in line with what is happening in some other local schools and is within government recommendations (to assess the risk for each school) - I am not sure why one school has been singled out

  • the school is not closed at the moment and has been open throughout the current crisis, providing care for the kids who have needed it most over the last few months

  • the detailed letter sent to parents signed by the headteacher today sets out what they’re going to try to do - a phased approach beginning with Y6 returning and seeing how that goes before more year groups are introduced

I think it’s much easier to make a risk call for yourself and / or your own kids than it is to do it for a staff of dozens and a cohort of kids running to nearly 700 and a group of parents / carers numbering over a thousand in total with a lot of different individual circumstances. People obviously have extreme views on this - I trust the school’s leadership team to know the details of the school’s own circumstances best and to manage the risk accordingly - a couple of weeks of caution seems prudent.

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A challenge is that by necessity, the message in lockdown was very clear - 2 meters social distancing is vital. And that paid a huge part in reducing the spread.

However, the message is so strong that there is a genuine fear / expectation for many people that if you get within, say 1 meter of another person you run very severe risks of a fatality. You run an increased risk - yes. But if we do persist with 2 meters social distancing for a long period of time that has very significant impacts. Running schools, museums, churches, charities, fianance districts, public transport, pubs, restaurants, airports, theatres etc doesn’t work beyond a few months with 2 meters SD.

So somehow a way has to be found to reduce the 2 meters social distancing well before a vaccine is available. Or suffer the consequences which may be very severe. That is not easy but it has to be done. Testing and tracking I suspect is the least worst.

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