"Schools are safe”. Boris Johnson’s unequivocal declaration in the House of Commons yesterday should encourage all parents to send their children back to the classroom. The difficulty is that many cannot do so because their age groups are not yet allowed to return; and those that are have to overcome objections from unions and councils.

The Prime Minister challenged Sir Keir Starmer, the Labour leader, to join him in saying schools are safe, which he declined to do. However, the initiative must be with the Government to insist that all schools must open. Yet ministers have already conceded that this will not happen for millions of pupils before the summer holidays and possibly not even in September.

三级成人视频It was confirmed in legal proceedings brought this week against the lockdown measures that there is no specific statutory barrier to schools reopening. No law has been passed to shut them down, government lawyers said. But this is disingenuous, because in March there was a clear prime ministerial edict that they should close for all but the children of key workers. We need a similarly clear instruction for them to reopen.

三级成人视频That might also help overcome the irrational concern that has been allowed to develop that children would be at risk if they went back, despite no evidence to support that contention.

The Government could and should require that all schools, in England at any rate, since the matter is devolved, return before the summer holidays, even if that means extending the term into August. Schools are also constrained by the two-metre rule (which is not a statutory requirement but a risk-based assessment) from being able to bring most of their pupils and staff back. If this was scrapped they could double the numbers. Independent schools want to reopen fully in September, but cannot get insurance cover because of the social distancing policy. Either the Government changes this or it agrees to underwrite any claims against schools that do open.

As the Prince of Wales says today, the prospects facing today’s younger generation are potentially devastating and cannot be improved by spending the best part of half a year without schooling. In a letter to Mr Johnson, some 1,500 paediatricians say that keeping children from school is causing worse damage than the virus ever could. All this is happening even though schools are safe. It is madness.