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Parents group wants Covid-19 rules relaxed for new term

Mask Protest: Pressure group Us For Them Bermuda conducted a survey about the effects of Covid-19 restrictions on children (Photograph Supplied by Us For Them Bermuda)

The vast majority of respondents in a survey believe that Covid-19 restrictions should be removed or relaxed in schools in time for the beginning of the new term.

The survey, conducted by parent group Us For them Bermuda in March, which reached 675 students and parents of students at different public and private schools, and school levels, revealed that 93 per cent are in favour of less or no restrictions in schools while more than 80 per cent of respondents felt that their child’s overall education suffered as a result of them.

Among the problems encountered were delayed reading, learning below grade levels, dropped performance and a dislike of school,

In light of the results, the group has renewed calls for the removal of all Covid-19 related restrictions for children returning to school in the new term.

A spokeswoman for the group, which also represents grandparents and teachers in public and private schools, said: “Us For Them Bermuda continues to advocate for the removal of all Covid related policies restricting the ability for any and all children to receive a proper in person education free of masking restrictions, excessive Covid testing, quarantines and other punitive and unfounded restrictions, regardless of vaccination and or travel status.

“Over the last two years the basic medical tenant of first do no harm had been thrown to the wayside in favour of scantly evidenced and only potentially preventive measures that disproportionately impacted young children.

“We must acknowledge that these measures may have caused way more long-lasting harm than the actual Covid virus for this same cohort.”

Just over 92 per cent of respondents believe school activities such as after school sports and clubs, music, assemblies, field trips and sports days should resume for children.

Participants were asked to specify ways the child’s overall well being and development were impacted by the restrictions within schools [see panel].

Many missed out on activities, time with friends and some became disinterested in school.

Ways children were affected by Covid-19 restrictions at school

89.6 per cent missed out on activities

83.6 per cent missed out on time with friends

74.5 per cent missed clubs and sports

41.2 per cent became disinterested in school

35 per cent experienced social anxiety

27.3 per cent missed graduations, leaving ceremonies and proms

24 per cent experienced behavioural issues

16.1 per cent had depression

8.9 per cent displayed aggressive behaviour

3.9 per cent experienced eating disorders

2.2 per cent had suicidal thoughts

The spokeswoman added: “These are not trivial issues. Extrapolated across the student population of Bermuda this represents a clear concern for the mental health and stability of our youth.

“We as adults and community leaders are duty bound to address this head on and ensure that we reverse course immediately and provide all students in Bermuda the education and childhood they deserve.

“We can no longer justify laying the burden of Covid ‘community protection’ at the feet of our children. They are the future, and it is our responsibility to ensure their lasting success.”

The Ministry of Education did not respond to questions by press time.