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Ben Shephard: GMB host fears for sons’ health following delay of schools reopening
Susanna Reid falls onto Ben Shephard’s lap in throwback moment
Ben Shephard, 46, shared his fears for his two teenage sons, as they both continue to be homeschooled. The Good Morning Britain presenter spoke candidly with his co-host Susanna Reid, 50, and Dr Hilary Jones, 67, on the ITV show today.
Ben shares two teenage sons with his wife Annie Shephard; Jack, 15, and Sam, 14.
The ITV broadcaster admitted he was afraid that the lack of social interaction with other people may negatively impact his boys.
It comes after Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that schools in England will not be able to reopen until March 8 at the earliest.
It was hoped that children would return to the classroom after the February half-term, but the government has since extended the closure of schools due to the high number of coronavirus cases in the country.
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Discussing the delayed reopening, Ben said: “There is a real concern though, isn’t there? You have two boys at home, Dr Hilary, who are home schooling.
“I also have two boys at home who are home schooling. And it is the mental health of the children that is certainly being affected.
“They are not surrounded by their friends and I think, for the boys, that is the hardest thing.”
His co-host Susanna quizzed: “But they are teenagers, aren’t they? And teenagers like to socialise.”
The dad-of-two explained that although his sons are able to interact with pals online, he explained that human interaction was specifically “crucial”.
“They have their friends on Zoom and can see them online but they do lack that socialising,” Ben remarked. “They are not surrounded by their friends.”
He continued: “They can talk to them and meet one person to exercise – but even if you go to the smaller children, there is so much socialising that is done as a young child.
“This is the concern, isn’t it Dr Hilary?”
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Ben added: “Where does this leave children’s mental health when schools, fingers crossed, go back and things – touch wood – start to get back to normal?”
The GMB host commented that the schools should be reopened for this very reason.
“That interaction is so crucial. We need to point out the schools are open and the schools are providing an incredible service for key workers and vulnerable children,” he concluded.
England’s schools have been closed to all but vulnerable children and those of key workers since the Christmas break.
The PM revealed plans to reopen schools by March dependant upon “lots of things going right”.
He told a Downing Street news conference: “The date of 8th March is the earliest that we think it is sensible to set for schools to go back and obviously we hope that all schools will go back.
“I’m hopeful, but that’s the earliest that we can do it and it depends on lots of things going right.”
“It also depends on us all now continuing to work together to drive down the incidence of the disease through the basic methods we’ve used throughout this pandemic,” he added.
Good Morning Britain airs weekdays on ITV at 6am.
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