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NHS paediatricians sign open letter to Prime Minister urging schools reopening

NHS paediatricians are calling on the Government to publish a clear plan for getting children back to school as the first step in a national recovery programme for children and young people.

In less than 24 hours, over 1,500 of the UK’s paediatricians have signed an open letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson calling for the prompt reopening of schools.

Professor Russell Viner, President of the RCPCH, said: “The response to this letter in such a short time shows the very real concern paediatricians have for the mental and physical health of children who have now missed many months of education and the broader benefits schools bring.

“Children need their schools. Every child deserves to have an uninterrupted education and teachers, school leaders and local authorities have worked tirelessly to provide that before and during COVID. But teachers do so much more than teach and schools provide so much more than education.

“Schools are vital to the wellbeing of children and young people, providing a range of services from vaccinations to mental health support.”

Prof Viner warned that, as a society, we don’t know how some of the most vulnerable children are faring because they are outside of the safety net that school provides.

Dr Liz Marder, a consultant community paediatrician working in Nottingham who signed the letter, added: “Getting children safely back into education as soon as we can has to be a priority if we are to avoid further damage to the health, well-being and life chances of so many of our young people.”

The letter argues that the current interruption to schooling is “without precedent” and that, for many children from disadvantaged backgrounds, the health and wellbeing interventions schools provide alongside education “are the difference between surviving and thriving”.

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