Following the news that school holiday plays and concerts are cancelled again this year, readers made their disappointment clear.
Within hours, the Evening Express and Press & Journal Facebook pages racked up hundreds of comments. Most readers were angry at the news that councils weren’t allowing holidays shows, in keeping with public health guidance.
Some asked for the shows to go on, but with reasonable restrictions. Others suggested there is no clear right or wrong decision, and that striking a balance will always be unfair to some. And many said there should be no restrictions at all.
But the overall reaction served as a reminder that decisions about schools affect the community as a whole.
Are our kids bearing the brunt of Covid-19 restrictions?
When asked whether holidays plays or concerts would be allowed this year, councils across the north and north east said no. Because of public health guidance and restrictions on visitors to campus, councils are not allowing live performances for an audience.
Many commenters argued that the restrictions in schools are still much stricter than in the general public. They said it isn’t fair that kids miss out on stages of their development, while many adults are almost back to normal.
“Pantos are a great way for the children to show their parents what they’ve been up to at school.”
-Facebook user Pamela Yüce
Facebook user Hanna O’Brien said: “We have just gone so far down a road now that it’s gotten silly. These months of things that they are missing out on are huge milestones and memories in children’s lives.
“Once again the kids get the brunt of the restrictions thrown in their faces again and made to feel like it must be their fault. We should really be ashamed of what’s happening here.”
Another user, Carly Alexis, suggested that school shows could go on, as long as people follow the rules.
“Parents can wear face coverings and be spaced out for seating. I don’t understand why they wouldn’t be allowed.
“There could be the same number in a cinema watching a movie, at a football game or concerts so why wouldn’t you be able to watch your child at to mark a special occasion.”
Cutting off an avenue for success
Pamela Yüce called the decision “shocking,” saying that music, theatre and the arts are part of the regular curriculum. And for some students, that’s where they shine academically.
“Pantos are a great way for the children to show their parents what they’ve been up to at school.
“A child may not be the best at numeracy and literacy but may excel at drama.”
Many other readers are worried that opportunities and experiences for students are being limited, while big moneymaking events continue. Football matches, night clubs and cinemas are open to revellers – and often with much higher capacities than school theatres – while student activities like holiday plays are cancelled.
But Facebook user John Widden pointed out that there are other restrictions in place for those events.
“I suppose the difference is you need a Covid passport to get into night clubs and football matches etc. Can’t see schools organising that.”
What’s the right balance?
But one reader, Facebook user Jode Lane, saw the decision to disallow school holiday plays as part of a delicate balancing act. While government officials are trying to support the economy, they need to limit risks wherever possible.
“I have yet to see my grandkids on stage at Christmas.”
-Facebook user Christina Pickard
There’s more choice involved in whether to attend public shows and venues, they said, whereas students and teachers have obligations at school.
“So, just maybe it is protecting kids and teachers and is a measure do able because it is stopping covid spreading in one way without wiping out people’s livelihoods.
“Nothing to stop parents getting together and organising Christmas plays with the neighbourhood kids…. So, Christmas plays don’t have to stop. Maybe just relocate and allow parents to decide whether or not to take the risk of organising and attending?”
Most commenters agreed that children are losing important experiences, rightly or wrongly.
And Facebook user Christina Pickard commented with a reminder that it isn’t just kids who are affected by school restrictions. Teachers and families are missing out as well.
“I have yet to see my grandkids on stage at Christmas,” she said.