Here's the latest Argus column by Torfaen MS Lynne Neagle:

CHILDREN have suffered “collateral damage” from coronavirus, a senior paediatrician repeatedly told the Senedd’s Children Young People and Education Committee, which I chair, earlier this month.

Government scientific advisers have warned that some children will suffer lifelong damage as a result of schools being closed, and 120 academic experts in children’s health and well-being have demanded children return to school in England.

The first minister has regularly acknowledged that there is more than one serious harm from coronavirus.


Too many children have been “hidden” in this pandemic, too few vulnerable children have attended school despite government efforts, and we know next to nothing about the many children who will have become vulnerable during the pandemic.

We know that, for many children, school is a precious and much-needed respite from their stressful home lives.

For too many children, home is not a refuge.

That’s why I personally support the return to school at the end of June.

The risk of Covid-19 to children is tiny, but the benefits of being in school are huge.

I wish they could have more time in school this month.

I wish the trade unions had agreed to an August return to school, which would have enabled a longer spell of unbroken learning at a time when we know the virus is at its least dangerous.

But for Welsh Government this has been the art of the possible.

The time at the end of June will be limited but precious, an opportunity to check on children’s well-being and their learning during lockdown.

Vital if we are not to further disadvantage children and entrench disadvantage.

The autumn may well see a second peak and further damaging disruption to education.

We must make hay while the sun shines.

There is currently a debate over whether to extend term by one week with an extra week off in October for school staff - a natural firebreak for the virus in the event of a second peak.

I recognise the immense effort of teachers and other school staff to ensure children continue to learn during lockdown.

But I really hope local authorities and schools will now opt to offer children the full four weeks.

They have lost so much - it is time to put the needs of children at the centre of these discussion to prevent them losing even more.