Sunday night saw the announcement by Boris Johnson that the second national lockdown of 2020 is going to commence on Thursday 5th November 2020. The guidelines included statistics regarding the increasing number of positive COVID-19 cases since the end of summer and expressed the need for people to stay indoors to allow families to safely mix at Christmas. However, Mr Johnson also stated that schools, colleges and universities will be exempt from the lockdown restrictions, and students will be able to continue attending lessons in person.
This caused a wave of controversy on Twitter, with ‘#CloseTheSchools’ being on the trending page ever since Sunday’s live broadcast. Many concerned parents, students and teachers have all expressed the need for students to stay home and study via online platforms – such as Zoom or Microsoft Teams – to prevent the spread of coronavirus. But, are these statements correct? Should students be working from home, or is it critical for them to be attending lessons in person despite the threat of a global pandemic?
The cancellation of the GCSE and A-Level exams during the summer has given students doubts about how grades will be calculated next year – raising questions about how the exam boards will give results that are consistent with those that were given before the pandemic, and those that were awarded during the first wave. Year 13 students, in particular, are worried about the speed of which they are studying; suggesting that they won’t be able to finish all the content on their courses in time for the exams next summer due to the six month gap in their Year 12 studies.
Year 13 student from Tavistock College, Keely, says that “As a Year 13 student, I feel as though without even attempting my exams I have already failed. This is due to the fact that me amongst many other students in my year are very much behind as we approach our exams next year. The government have cut GCSE exams by 20% and I feel as though that should be done for the Year 13’s also.”
Many Twitter users are urging the UK prime minister to make changes to the status of lockdown through the use of hashtags and mentioning Mr Johnson in their tweets. “One of my friends is currently in hospital with Covid-19. She’s a school cleaner. Her entire team are infected. 5 are hospitalized. 2 teachers are also infected. The School is open today,” a Twitter user posted. “@BorisJohnson how many more need to die?”
A petition has since been launched and has been signed by over 315,000 people in an attempt for the Government to close down schools as part of the national lockdown.
A heat map included in Sunday evening’s presentation revealed that every single area in the UK is suffering from at least 200 positive cases of coronavirus a day in the 16-29 age category, with some areas exceeding 500 cases per day (see below). People in this age range tend to be students that are either studying for their GCSE exams, for their A-Level exams or even studying at university for a degree; yet this range of people are also those that pose the biggest threat to everybody present in their respective buildings – which is the reason why many are signing the petition.
On the other side of the argument, people believe that students should be attending school as the six-month lockdown the UK faced earlier this year has already put students far behind in their studies. Mental health is also being considered by those that believe schools shouldn’t be closed, as many students suffered with bad mental health during the first lockdown in March. However, the vast majority of Twitter users believe that schools should close, with many teachers reporting that they often work for hours before working surfaces are wiped down.
The final decision about whether schools are to be closed during lockdown is putting a lot of pressure on the British Government as students return from the October half-term holidays. The Doughnut will update this article when further information regarding the news is revealed.
Feature Image: Changbok Ko via Unsplash