Dublin GP says ‘it doesn't make sense’ to keep children out of school until September

Dublin GP says ‘it doesn't make sense’ to keep children out of school until September

A DUBLIN GP has argued that keeping children out of schools until September “doesn’t make sense” and “has a risk as well”. 

Primary and Secondary schools closed across Ireland in early March, and there are currently no plans to bring students back any earlier than September. 

However, Dr Aoife Ni Sheaghdha is calling on primary schools to re-open with limited capacity from June onwards. 

Though she appreciates the need to protect the health of the wider community, Dr Ni Sheaghdha believes it’s essential children to have a set routine and stimulation in their day-to-day lives. 

Speaking to Newstalk radio's Lunchtime Live Dr Ni Sheaghdha said: "There's no medical evidence that children are at high risk of transmitting this virus. 

"So it doesn't make sense for the schools to be postponed for a prolonged period of time anymore. 

"And... school is good for children, and the not being at school is having an impact on their mental and physical health." 

"At the start of the lockdown we didn't know much about this virus - it made sense - there was a worry that children were super-spreaders, so it made sense for the Government to shut down all the schools and see what's happening. 

“In the weeks and months since then, there's more and more evidence coming that actually children aren't super-spreaders with Covid, they don't seem to transmit it between each other or to people at high risk.” 

"So I feel it's a living document and I feel the Government should address this". 

Dr Ni Sheaghdha cited the examples of other countries across Europe that have reopened schools without seeing a major increase in coronavirus cases. 

"Denmark opened [schools] a month ago, and they've been fine there hasn't been - thankfully - a big surge of Covid cases after that, so that's a good sign and a reassuring sign". 

"School is good for children - it mightn't feel like that when you're running out the door at 8.30 for the school run, but we know children thrive on routine, they socialise with their friends. 

"And not going to school has a risk as well. 

"We can see it: it's impacting on their mental health, children learn through play, not through laptops, not through remote learning. 

"And this is not a slight on the teachers and parents, I think they're doing a fantastic job, but unfortunately children are just not designed to learn remotely and largely. 

"More importantly, though, school is a safe haven for children."

The Dublin practitioner is calling on schools to begin an immediate but gradual return to normal.

"I don't see why we can't do smaller classes - 10 people, two hours a day - and rotate it for two or three times a week - and see how it goes and do it gradually. 

"Rather than everybody go back in September".