Covid: Closing schools should be a last resort in second lockdown – Steve Cardownie

If a second coronavirus wave hits this winter, we should try to keep open schools for the sake of our children’s futures, writes Steve Cardownie.

Children need the discipline of the classroom, says Steve Cardownie (Picture: Tobias Schwarz/AFP via Getty Images)
Children need the discipline of the classroom, says Steve Cardownie (Picture: Tobias Schwarz/AFP via Getty Images)

It has come as a welcome relief to me that my son has now resumed his proper education and has been attending school for over a week now. For me, peace and sanity has been restored to the household, but more than that, he now has the opportunity to pick up where he left off and can concentrate on his studies.

However we don’t know what the future might bring.

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We have recently been regaled with “worst-case scenarios” about the impact of a Covid- 19 second wave this winter and the renewed lockdown measures that may have to be introduced, but, although the Scottish Government is right to prepare for such a possibility, it is by no means certain that it will come about.

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If it does however, there must be an all-out effort to protect the educational prospects of young people by only closing schools again as a last resort.

Although “blended learning” may sound fine in theory it is not a worthy substitute for attendance at school, where students derive the benefits of direct learning in a classroom with a teacher and with the discipline that that involves. Peer pressure can be an effective method of raising standards but that is hardly likely to materialise to the same extent if the student is sitting alone in a room at the end of a computer. Pupils who witness fellow pupils doing well in a subject are more likely to raise their game and achieve more as a result.

The next generation will have every right not to forgive us if we sacrifice their future in order to contain this virus by taking steps that are no longer necessary.

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