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We the undersigned are supporting UsForThem Cymru’s call for a public inquiry into the Welsh Government and Welsh local councils’ treatment of children’s rights during the pandemic.

We believe the impact of restrictions and lockdowns has fallen disproportionately on children.

Evidence has shown that children are at low risk from COVID-19 and that they are the least likely people to spread the disease.  Yet, decisions made during this period  have time and time again had a negative impact on children’s welfare, education and health.

Article 3 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child stipulates that the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration in all actions concerning them, yet even the Government’s own risk assessments sets out the negative impact their decisions have had on children. Protocol 1, Article 2 of the Human Rights Act provides that “No person shall be denied a right to an education.”

 

In 2011 Wales became the first country in the UK to make the UNCRC part of its domestic law.

Today we see a very serious breach of law by the Welsh Government, such as:

  • children have been denied the right to socialise and
  • to receive other forms of education, i.e sport, arts, music.

 

The switch to ‘blended learning’ has proved to be of little mitigation. The inquiry must consider whether it is justified that children’s right to education has been denied since March 2020, as well as serious and detrimental  impact on their wellbeing, social development and safeguarding.

We believe that the risk of closing schools and measures introduced is a disproportionate infringement of children’s rights and damaging.

The impact on children of the Welsh Government and local councils in Wales’ response must be subject to urgent public review to:

  • Ensure there is a robust protection of children’s rights while measures to limit the spread of Covid 19 are in place and

  • Publish the new evidence which shows this intervention is absolutely necessary and has been properly evaluated for potential harms, or to reverse it.

I have yet to see any scientific advice which supports today’s decision nor an assessment of the impact this will inevitably have on our young people.”

The Children’s Commissioner for Wales.

“Evidence shows that schools are not the main drivers of this pandemic. Yet, we are seeing an alarming trend whereby governments are once again closing down schools as a first recourse rather than a last resort. In some cases, this is being done nationwide, rather than community by community, and children are continuing to suffer the devastating impacts on their learning, mental and physical well-being and safety.”

Robert Jenkins, UNICEF Global Chief of Education

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Evidence:

  1. A study published by Oxford University (16 November 2020) makes clear the severe issues facing families and in particular children when they are unable to attend school.
  2. A study led by Vall d’Hebron Hospital, Barcelona finds that children and adolescents are low transmitters of Covid-19, with even more compelling results than the first. (Vall d’Hebron, 27 November 2020). This study confirms findings from the American Academy of Pediatrics published in August 2020 and evidence paper on transmission & risks from the Scottish Government (18 November 2020).
  3. In summary, where COVID-19 in children has been detected and contacts followed-up, no adult contacts in school settings have been detected as COVID-19-positive during the follow-up period. The conclusion from these investigations is that children in school settings are not the primary drivers of COVID-19 transmission to adults. (Published by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, 06 August 2020)
  4. Schools are not a main driver of community transmission. (Report published by UNICEF, 16 November 2020) and shutting them is the wrong response to Covid-19.
  5. A recent cohort study on 12 million adults in England has found: “…there was no association between living with children and outcomes related to SARS-CoV-2. We observed no consistent changes in risk following school closure.” (OpenSAFELY platform for electronic health records in the NHS cohort study, 02 November 2020)
  6. Findings in post lockdown screening on over 9 million residents of Wuhan, China tell “virus cultures were negative for all asymptomatic. positive and repositive cases, indicating no “viable virus” in positive cases detected”, “all close contacts of the asymptomatic positive cases tested negative, indicating that asymptomatic positive cases detected were unlikely to be infectious.
  7. A new study from Public Health Wales found that schools did not appear to increase the risk of infection.