MINISTERS were warned that additional Covid 19 Christmas limitations, which led to prolonged school closures, pose a “serious risk” to the health and human rights of children.
Bruce Adamson, Commissioner for Children and Young People in Scotland, has raised concerns that the limitations on Covid 19 affect protection under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).
Ministers attempted to become the first country in the United Kingdom to explicitly incorporate the UNCRC into national law in September.
The UNCRC is the world’s most-ratified human rights treaty which lays out the basic rights that all children have to fulfill their potential, including health and education rights, leisure and play, fair and equitable care, protection from exploitation and the right to be heard.
The First Minister said schools would return later than originally scheduled after the Christmas holidays as part of the latest Covid restrictions to curb the spread of a new, faster-spreading strain of the virus.
Ms. Sturgeon said they were expected to start Jan. 11, with online learning until Jan. 18 at least.
“Mr. Adamson, however, warned that closures of schools posed a “significant risk to the health of children and young people and the fulfillment of their rights.
He said the “must be limited, defined and reviewed.” closure.
And he said that rapid, national action would support the decision to ensure that children and families are able to participate in learning. He said that more support is required, particularly for disadvantaged children who are most impacted by such decisions.
It is important to put in place additional resources for teachers seeking to participate in learning both online and in the classroom, he said.
He said that the Scottish government would “prioritize support for children and families facing another period of school closures” by ensuring that all those in need are covered by the national rollout of digital devices, reliable online learning support and direct payments to families eligible for free school meals.
This has previously drawn criticism from teachers for the ‘failure’ during the coronavirus shutdown of the 13-year-old Scottish Digital Schools Network to offer lessons to children in state schools.
How ‘blended learning’ returned to schools in Scotland
Mr. Adamson said he expressed his concerns directly to the Scottish government and said that while he supported the government’s emphasis on the right to health and understood for a limited period the decision to close schools, he warned that it is not necessary to risk the education and mental health of children.
He said, “The coronavirus pandemic is a public health emergency in Scotland, but it’s been clear to me since the first school closure in March that it’s also a children’s human rights emergency.” We need to endorse the government’s emphasis on the right to health – and indeed the right to life – in order to fight the coronavirus, but we need to do whatever we can to minimize the significant effect on children. Until online classes begin on Jan. 11, many of the issues I have posed with the government all year long need to be urgently addressed.
He said he was highly worried that funding for online learning was being offered “inconsistently” across the nation and that the Scottish government did not have adequate national guidance and support for schools.
The “inconsistent” provision of online learning “continues to widen the attainment gap” between rich and poor children and young people between local authorities and individual schools.
He said the provision of online learning is not driven by any nationally accepted resource.
“Many kids and young people, particularly those with disabilities and those from low-income and single-parent families, continue to struggle to access online learning,” Mr. Adamson added. We know that parents and caregivers do their best to help kids learn at home, but they need help. The Scottish Government must ensure that all children who need a computer for accessing education have one and have access to meaningful online education support.
“The teachers are doing an excellent job…