Thanks needed to nation’s young as schools return with masks in classrooms: The Yorkshire Post says

With Covid cases, hospital admissions and deaths plummeting as a combined result of lockdown and the vaccination rollout, today marks a vital staging post in the nation’s cautious return towards normality as pupils across England finally return to schools.

Pupils in England will be asked to wear masks in class as they return to school today. Pictured: Pupils at Rosshall Academy wear face coverings as it becomes mandatory in corridors and communal areas on August 31, 2020 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

But while the end of homeschooling is undoubtedly a cause for celebration and relief for both students and parents, it is important to remember the challenges are very far from over for the nation’s young people.

In the medium and long-term, huge questions remain as to how pupils will be able to catch up with their education given the interruptions of lockdowns in both 2020 and 2021.

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But in the present moment, the return of schools comes with revised measures for secondary school students where they will be asked to take lateral flow tests twice a week and also wear face coverings in classrooms.

These are hopefully temporary measures, particularly given the warning from Professor Sheila Bird, a member of the Royal Statistical Society, that it is “very likely” the lateral flow tests will produce some false positives which will lead pupils to be away from schools once again and households having to isolate unnecessarily in certain cases.

While there have of course been exceptions and some rule-breakers - as there have been amongst all age groups - the nation’s young people have generally already shown tremendous fortitude in the face of the pandemic and have become well-used to making sacrifices of many descriptions to protect not just their friends and families but society’s older generations more widely.

As Education Secretary Gavin Williamson pointed out on The Andrew Marr Show yesterday, young people do deserve great credit for the responsibility they have been showing in their approach to an unbelievably testing time.

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