As this is a longish post – perhaps a 10-minute read – here are the main takeaways:
- Children are much less likely to become seriously ill from Covid-19 than adults, and appear less likely to become infected.
- Unlike with influenza, it appears that children are not more likely than adults to spread the disease, and may be significantly less likely.
- There are good grounds for thinking that outdoor environments present a low risk of infection compared to indoor ones, especially where the time spent in close proximity to other people is short.
- Pandemic control measures are likely to lead to significant collateral damage to children, with the most vulnerable and disadvantaged children worst affected.
- Government, local authorities and other public agencies should take a balanced approach to supporting children through the pandemic. They should:
- Encourage schools and child care centres to take learning activities outdoors, prioritising play and breaks, and maximize outdoor play time, as they reopen.
- Open all remaining closed parks, review the closure of playgrounds, and take a supportive approach to the oversight of children’s play and socialising in public space.
- Address the circumstances of disadvantaged children as a matter of urgency.
- Prioritise children’s active travel to school, to help reduce peak hours congestion.
- Closely monitor emerging evidence, especially from countries that have relevant experience of relaxing measures.
- Encourage the public to engage with and understand the evidence base, and keep them informed as it grows.
The government’s plans for relaxing the lockdown, including greater freedom to spend time outside, and the possible re-opening of schools, have unsurprisingly generated huge debate. At the same time, evidence is growing on how Covid-19 affects children, and of children’s role in the spread of the disease. This post shares my take on that evidence base and its implications.
The post starts with a summary of the clinical and epidemiological evidence base. It then looks at the collateral damage to children of the pandemic control measures. It closes with implications for policy and practice, with a particular focus on children’s play and mobility.
Posted in Covid-19, Education, Health, Outdoor play, Public policy
Tagged child safety, childcare, coronavirus, Covid-19, education, health, outdoor education, public policy, Risk
Authors: Tim Gill and Penny Wilson
[Updated 25 April 2020 and on previous dates, with new links to other posts, ideas and reflections, plus a few additions (in italic) and
deletions (in strikethrough text) to reflect the 23 March 2020 address to the nation from the UK Prime Minister, and subsequent official guidance for England.]
The lives of parents and caregivers around the world are being turned upside down. But amidst all the fear, stress and uncertainty, children of all ages still want – and need – to play.
This post shares some thoughts and ideas on supporting children’s play in these challenging times, bearing in mind that they may need to be indoors, or
socially distancing themselves following official guidance if they are outside.
Photo: Wikipedia (creative commons licence)
A medical study [pdf link] has just been published that looks at hospital emergency department (ED) visits for concussions (or to use the clinical term, traumatic brain injuries or TBIs) to children arising from playground incidents in the USA.
My aim in this post is to give a summary of the study and to scrutinize some of its conclusions. I plan in a future post to discuss its wider implications.
The study used data from a national injury surveillance system to work out injury rates for each year between 2001 and 2013. It also looked at whether or not children were admitted to hospital and the playground equipment involved, amongst other factors, and it analysed the data for trends. It claims to be the first national study on playground-related TBIs since 1999.
Posted in Health, playground, Risk
Tagged ASTM, health, injury, injury prevention, playground, playground safety, public health, Risk, USA
Positive news from parliament for the first time in a long time, with the launch of a new report on play from the All-Party Parliamentary Group on a Fit and Healthy Childhood. Central to the report is its call for the promotion of play as part of a ‘whole child’ strategy. Read more on the website of Adrian Voce, former director of Play England.
Policy for Play
A Parliamentary report on children’s play, published today, calls for play to be at the centre of a ‘whole child’ approach to health and wellbeing.
The All Party Parliamentary Group on a Fit and Healthy Childhood, chaired by Baroness Floella Benjamin, today launches its long-awaited report on children’s play.
Announcing the report, the group says that ‘whilst there is broad consensus about the importance of physical activity in the battle against obesity, play (policy) has lost political momentum in recent years and the report calls for a fresh approach’.
In a statement released alongside the report today, Baroness Benjamin says that the group’s ‘proposals on play are ‘integral to a “whole child” strategy for health and wellbeing and should not be regarded as an “add on”. Of course encouraging children to participate in sport is important, but in practice, not all children are “sporty”. Play benefits children of all ages…
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The call by Professor Dame Sally Davies, the Government’s top health advisor, for children to be given vitamin pills has kick-started another lively debate about the health of our nation’s children (this morning I switched on my radio to hear film-maker David ‘Project Wild Thing’ Bond flying the flag for nature, not pills, on BBC Five Live with Nicky Campbell). But that was just one media-friendly recommendation taken from 15 chapters and appendices of material. A closer look at the report shows a more thoughtful set of prescriptions, with some significant and positive messages about the value of outdoor play and the need for a balanced approach to risk. This post is a public service. Its aim is to relay some of the CMO’s messages, so that advocates for play and the outdoors can quickly find and make use of them.
The term ‘nature deficit disorder’ – as used by the National Trust in its recent report – has come in for criticism, in a Guardian article, and in a post by playwork academic Wendy Russell on Play England’s Love Outdoor Play website. I share some of the concerns raised. But I think too much semantics is being made of the phrase. The critique also takes too little account of what the children and nature movement is actually saying and doing.