THREE mums are threatening to launch a legal war with the government after claiming school closures breach children’s human rights.
Christine Brett, Molly Kingsley and Liz Morris also believe the social distancing measures at schools are treating kids “like they’re germs”.
The campaigners have launched the ‘Us and Them’ group and have written to Education Secretary Gavin Williamson to ask whether the “long term physical and mental welfare” of pupils has been considered, the Daily Mail reports.
They believe the strict social distancing measures, that kids will experience for the first time today, as well as the strain of the coronavirus lockdown, will have a lasting impact on their mental health.
Mrs Brett, who has two children, said: “These are healthy children who have been quarantined for 12 weeks – they shouldn’t be treated like they’re germs, disinfected on entry and separated on to individual tables.”
Youngsters in reception, year 1 and year 6 will return to primary schools across the country today after 10 weeks away from class.
It comes after a fierce legal battle between the government and teachers unions who have argued it is not safe for staff to return to class.
Local councils, mostly in the north of the country, have also been at loggerheads with Downing Street’s proposals, with some authorities refusing to re-open schools.
One in four teachers are expected to stay at home today in fear for their health.
BACK TO SCHOOL
But the pupils who do return today will experience a very different school day to the one before lockdown.
They will have to queue up on marks sprayed two metres apart and there will be staggered drop off times, in groups no bigger than 15.
While once in the schools, kids will be told to walk along taped out walkways in corridors.
In some schools there have been waiting areas set up where kids are separated by bollards to ensure social distancing.
But despite all of these safe guarding measures it is expected that 46 per cent of children, around one million, will be kept at home by their parents in fear of them catching covid-19.
The government’s scientific advisory group, known as Sage, has reassured families that the chance of children catching the killer virus at school was “very, very small, but it is not zero”.
While Mr Williamson told HOAR: “I know there will be some natural nervousness about sending more pupils into school today.
“But I’d like to encourage parents to consider the full benefits of being back at school, not just for their children’s education but also their well-being.”
The mothers group, which now has the support of 2,000 parents and teachers, believe the measures the government have set out at schools are far too extreme.
In an open letter to Mr Williamson, they ask what investigation was done into the impact of the measures and why parents’ concerns were ignored.
The document reads: “We absolutely recognise the challenges for Government at this time but your policies cannot – morally or legally – subordinate the welfare of children to other interests.”
Us and Them have spoken to a legal team, including a top human rights QC, to examine whether the distancing proposals have been unlawful.
Mrs Kingsley told the Mail: “If it transpires that the Government has failed to take into account the welfare of children, as a primary consideration, we are prepared to take legal action.”
Mrs Brett, a health economist, said: “The unions represent the best interests of the teachers, and that’s their job, but who’s representing the best interests of the children?”
She added: “Parents have very much been led and frightened by the risk of the virus.
“But this fear is stopping them from being rational about what this is going to look like for their children going back to school.”