School reopening in Kent on March 8 needs to happen for children's health says Dr Ranj
"There comes a point where the disadvantages of lockdown for children and young people start to outweigh the benefits."
That's the strong message from doctor and television presenter Dr Ranj who says children need to return to school. Scroll down to watch the video
The Medway born doctor, who is currently working at a hospital in London, says professionals across the health and education sectors are working hard to make schools 'as safe as possible' and the time has come for children to go back to the classroom for the sake of both their education but also their physical heath and mental health and that lockdown measures were starting to have a detrimental affect on children's overall well being.
He explained: "I want to re-assure them that school is the best place.
"But you can be relatively reassured that people are doing their best to try and make it as safe as possible. It's important we get people back as quickly as possible but as safely as possible."
Once a regular fixture on children's television channel Cbeebies, Dr Ranj said that he'd taken time out to meet pupils and teachers at a school in South East London to learn more about the enhanced measures all secondary schools will see in place from Monday.
This includes greater emphasis on wearing masks in crowded places where social distancing isn't possible and the regular testing of both secondary school pupils and staff which he says will be 'quick and easy' for individuals to do.
And combined with regular hand washing, school bubbles, ventilation and frequent cleaning he said the new approach would add another layer of protection for secondary and college settings.
"They are hugely important measures we have not had in place before and they will add an extra layer of safety" he added.
When these youngest children return to their primary schools from March 8 there will be no testing of pupils and no requirement for young children to wear masks - decisions Dr Ranj says he supports.
He said primary-aged children, unlike in flu cases, were both at the lowest risk of catching covid and of complications and there was growing evidence young children also didn't spread it in the same way as teenagers or adults either.
Instead, research suggested that when frequent cases appeared in schools and popped numerous bubbles, as they did in Kent prior to Christmas, they were reflecting localised increases within communities rather than being the drivers in transmission.
He believes the measures primary schools already had in place combined now with the support of the vaccine to protect older or vulnerable relatives and the regular testing of primary school teachers there is less concern about the risks posed by primary schools.
"We don't need to worry quite as much as we do with secondary classes opening" he explained.
Whilst Dr Ranj said no one can rule out a further wave of coronavirus or another lockdown, the vaccination programme's efforts to reach more than 20million people combined with what scientists now know about the virus had made a significant difference to the progress that can be made in overcoming the pandemic.
"Everyone wants a bit of hope" he explained.
"We know a lot more now. This is our chance now to try and get back to normal.
"Hang on in there a bit longer and keep following the guidance."