Welsh Youth Parliament members call for ‘proactive’ school closures to slow coronavirus spread
Members of the Welsh Youth Parliament have called on the Welsh Government to be “proactive” in closing schools in Wales.
The letter signed by 20 members of the Youth Parliament has been sent to Health Minister Vaughan Gething and Education Minister Kirsty Williams.
In the letter, members say that although children and young adults usually experience a mild form of coronavirus they can play a large role in spreading the virus throughout communities.
The UK Government have said that they do not want to see schools close as it would force parents to stop working, in particular those caring for patients in the NHS.
However, the primary signatory, Jonathan Powell, the WYPM for the Wrexham Constituency, said that the Welsh Government should act “quickly and decisively”.
“Young People understand that the Welsh Government are following scientific advice but are questioning how Wales’s scientific advisors are more qualified than those of the other 61 nations?” the letter says.
“The young people of Wales are concerned and demand clarity.
“Encountering children who may have been exposed to the virus puts other parents, teachers, school staff, and vulnerable students at risk.
“Many children use public transport each day to reach their educational institutions and this, in turn, will lead to the spread of the virus.
“Due to this reason, a significant amount of countries have decided that closing schools will not only protect children but prevent wider spread.
“Closures early in such an epidemic are more likely to be effective hence why according to UNESCO, Governments in 61 countries have announced or implemented the closure of educational institutions in an attempt to slow the spread of the disease and 39 countries have closed schools nationwide, impacting over 420 million children and youth.”
The letter also refers to the fact that the virus could put children’s health at risk, particularly those who are suffering from athsma.
“It is also paramount that we take into consideration the substantial number of children who suffer from asthma and issues with their immune system,” the letter says.
“Asthma prevalence in Wales is reported to be one of the highest in the world with Asthma UK Cymru findings suggesting there are 55,000 children living with asthma in Wales.”
Two Universities in Wales, Bangor and Swansea, have already announced that they are suspending face to face teaching to slow the spread of the virus.
Bangor University is to suspend face-to-face lectures from tomorrow onwards while Swansea University plans to do so from the 23rd of March. Online teaching will continue.
The total number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in Wales reached 94 over the weekend, Public Health Wales (PHW) has said.
However, the true number of cases is likely to be higher as officials are concentrating on testing those sick enough to need hospital treatment.