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Send kids back to school, it’s safer for them there - SA Paediatric Association

7 August 2020 12:57 PM

"Covid-19 is going to be with us for years. On balance, it’s better for kids to be in school," says Prof Mignon McCulloch.

Teacher unions want schools to remain closed, despite paediatricians consistently saying it’s alright for children to go back.

Parents are divided.

© halfpoint/123rf.com

Recently, a study in the UK (modelled on the 2009 H1N1 and 2003 Sars outbreaks) predicted school closures will prevent about 2% to 4% of deaths.

Numerous studies – from China, Italy, the UK and the USA – all report very low numbers of critically ill children younger than 19.


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Kieno Kammies interviewed Professor Mignon McCulloch, Chairperson of the South African Paediatric Association (Sapa).

McCulloch is a paediatrician the Red Cross Children’s Hospital in Rondebosch, considered to be the best such facility in Africa.

If you can educate your kids in a safe environment... then keep them at home. The majority of our population don’t have that privilege.

Professor Mignon McCulloch, Chairperson - South African Paediatric Association

Parents are getting in overcrowded taxis to go to work, leaving the kids at home… they’re not getting a meal… Mental health is a major issue… they can’t see their mates… I work at Red Cross, we see kids [at home] getting shot. We see children being hit by cars…

Professor Mignon McCulloch, Chairperson - South African Paediatric Association

On balance, it’s probably best for kids to go back to school.

Professor Mignon McCulloch, Chairperson - South African Paediatric Association

We advise 1.5 metres of distancing. In a taxi, if you get 1.5 centimetres it’s good going!

Professor Mignon McCulloch, Chairperson - South African Paediatric Association

We understand concerns about elderly teachers and elderly parents. We’re saying most adults are getting it from each other in the community…

Professor Mignon McCulloch, Chairperson - South African Paediatric Association

Kids will get Covid, but they won’t get it as severely. We think they spread it less…

Professor Mignon McCulloch, Chairperson - South African Paediatric Association

The kids [who are not in school] are hanging around outside… they’re going to shops… If they’re not in school, they can still pick it up…

Professor Mignon McCulloch, Chairperson - South African Paediatric Association

We’re continually monitoring all the scientific evidence...

Professor Mignon McCulloch, Chairperson - South African Paediatric Association

This is going to be with us for years… Looking at the pros and the cons… those kids that you can’t put in a car and take to school safely, at least they’re in a safe environment… It’s a difficult one…

Professor Mignon McCulloch, Chairperson - South African Paediatric Association

We’ve had 9000 deaths. Of those, only 26 children died. That’s a 0.27% death-rate. But, if that’s your child, it’s a 100% death-rate…

Professor Mignon McCulloch, Chairperson - South African Paediatric Association

Listen to the interview in the audio below.




7 August 2020 12:57 PM

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