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Children’s learning must not be disrupted this term by ‘disastrous’ Covid measures, experts have warned.

As pupils return to schools this week, it is feared further interruptions would ‘inflict life-long damage’ on a ‘whole generation’, with the poor suffering most.

Teaching unions have warned individual schools could re-impose rules such as masks and the ‘bubble’ system if there are local coronavirus flare-ups.

Teaching unions warned individual schools could re-impose rules such as masks and 'bubble' system but experts warn further loss of learning would be a disaster for millions (file image)

Teaching unions warned individual schools could re-impose rules such as masks and 'bubble' system but experts warn further loss of learning would be a disaster for millions (file image)

 Teaching unions warned individual schools could re-impose rules such as masks and ‘bubble’ system but experts warn further loss of learning would be a disaster for millions (file image)

Lee Elliot Major, professor of social mobility at Exeter University, said: ‘Continued school disruption will be a disaster for the life prospects of pupils, particularly those from poorer backgrounds, who have already suffered unprecedented learning losses during the pandemic.

‘Missing out on so much classroom learning threatens to inflict life-long damage for millions of children.

‘Our research has shown that pupils missed half of their classroom days during the first year of the pandemic.

‘Further learning loss for our most disadvantaged pupils will worsen the social mobility prospects for a whole generation of children.’ Meanwhile, Professor John Jerrim, of the UCL Institute of Education, accepted that ‘lower level’ restrictions might have to be re-imposed.

But he added: ‘We all agree we can’t keep on opening and shutting schools, it is not great for anyone.

‘The scientific community has always told us we are going to have to learn to live with Covid.

Ministers are pressing ahead with plans to introduce vaccine passports for nightclubs at the end of this month.

Downing Street has confirmed that Boris Johnson remains committed to the policy, despite a backlash from his own MPs.

The Government said in July that proof of double-vaccination will be a ‘condition of entry’ to clubs and busy venues from this month. 

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‘That includes how to educate children with Covid as an endemic disease.’

Masks are no longer compulsory this autumn, and the bubble system – which saw whole year groups sent home for one positive case – has been scrapped. Instead, pupils aged 11 and over in Year 7 and over will test twice weekly at home.

However, the National Education Union has said ‘hundreds’ of schools will probably have to operate ‘contingency frameworks’ if there are local outbreaks, including reimposing measures.

Molly Kingsley from parent group UsForThem said yesterday this would be ‘unconscionable’.

She added: ‘Given that all adults who want to be vaccinated have now been vaccinated it is not clear on what basis further restrictions on children can be justified.

‘Children have suffered disproportionately during the pandemic and must now be able to get on with their education and lives without fear of ongoing disruption.’

Russell Hobby, chief executive of Teach First, said: ‘We trust school leaders to be informed by the science and decide the right measures for their schools.’

He added the Government should work to ensure disadvantaged pupils have computer equipment to keep learning if restrictions return. Yesterday another 32,181 cases of Covid were recorded and 50 deaths within 28 days of a positive test.

A Department for Education spokesman said: ‘Education remains a national priority, and the success of the vaccine programme means schools and colleges will deliver high-quality, face-to-face education to their pupils, with minimal disruption. The measures in place strike a balance between making schools safe and reducing disruption by removing bubbles and face coverings.’

  • Cambridge University is launching a ‘STEM SMART’ scheme to tutor 750 state school sixth form pupils in maths and science to make up for disruption from the pandemic and encourage them to apply to a top university.

Get a jab, corona girl urges teens

Warning: Maisy Evans, 17, from Newport, had severe Covid symptoms and was was admitted to hospital with a Covid-related blood clot

Warning: Maisy Evans, 17, from Newport, had severe Covid symptoms and was was admitted to hospital with a Covid-related blood clot

Warning: Maisy Evans, 17, from Newport, had severe Covid symptoms and was was admitted to hospital with a Covid-related blood clot

A teenager in hospital with a Covid-related blood clot yesterday criticised anti-vaxxers for hijacking her illness.

Warning young people to take the virus seriously, Maisy Evans, 17, said it was ‘deeply frustrating’ sceptics had wrongly used her experience to discourage jab uptake in the young.

The former member of the Welsh Youth Parliament struggled to breathe and tested positive for the virus after having her first dose of the Pfizer jab.

After she was admitted to hospital, a CT scan revealed a small clot on her right lung which was not vaccine-related. Now recovering, Miss Evans, from Newport, urged young people not to underestimate the impact Covid-19 could have on them. 

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Source: Daily Mail UK

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