Deputy calls for school singing restrictions to be relaxed

MORE children would be allowed to sing together in ‘class bubbles’ if proposals by a backbencher to relax Covid-19 restrictions are passed by the States.

Deputy Louise Doublet
Deputy Louise Doublet

Deputy Louise Doublet has lodged a proposition calling for existing guidelines to be changed, in consultation with a representative group of Jersey singers and musicians, to allow ‘a wider variety’ of singing in schools, especially for younger children.

Government advice currently says that children and young people in full-time education should only sing during one-to-one lessons, with a minimum of one metre physical distancing. Group lessons or practice are only permitted when they form part of a school or exam syllabus.

The report accompanying Deputy Doublet’s proposition says that there has been ‘very little nuance’ in the government’s singing guidance for schoolchildren.

‘Many of the risk factors for super-spreading occurring from group singing do not apply in the case of children already operating within a designated “class bubble”,’ it says. ‘This means that the children in each year group do not have any contact with pupils from other year groups, and staggered drop-off and pick-up times reduce the risk of transmission between year groups and carers further.

‘Therefore younger schoolchildren do not currently have as high rates of contact between different groups as a mixed choir does. Class sizes are small, and classroom-based singing activities do not include audiences of parents or other schoolchildren and teachers.’

The report adds that children were not deemed to be ‘super-spreaders’ according to a recent article in the British Medical Journal.

‘It is clear that children who are already talking, chanting, shouting, coughing and laughing within a class bubble are likely to be producing similar rates of respiratory droplets as they would if singing,’ Deputy Doublet’s report says.

‘It makes sense therefore to take the step to reintroduce singing into schools, taking into account the different risk factors that classroom singing represents.’

The proposition is due to be debated on 19 January 2021.

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