Guy Emmett, Headmaster of Scarborough College, says it is impossible to measure how tough restrictions are affecting youngsters’ socio-emotional development.
But he says the longer they continue, the greater the repercussions will be.
“We can safely say that the longer we carry on in closed-off environments and the longer we teach lessons that children or adults are somehow unsafe to others, the bigger the impact is going to be in later years,” he said.
“This morning a six-year-old child asked me if they could hug their friend in our key worker class. They wanted to wish them a happy birthday.”
He is confident, though, that families, schools and children themselves will make sure young people do not become a “lost generation”.
“I am in school every day and see children in person or online who make us all proud,” he said.
He and the rest of the college’s staff were saddened by last week’s announcement that schools will not reopen to all children until March 8 at the earliest.
“We feel ready to be open to all pupils but the frustration we also feel is not just the announcement itself but the situation we are all in,” he said.
“Schools are about people and until all our children and staff are back it is too quiet.
“Our pupils love attending school and we thrive on each day being full of different challenges.
“On a normal day for a pupil, it is full of learning, exploring, field trips, sports fixtures and performances on stage. Of course some of these things are not possible but it is incredible to see schools, families and above all the children adapt.
“They continue to highlight why they are not the ‘lost or snowflake’ generation as some are suggesting. They are resourceful, independent and are showing a genuine love of learning.”
Quick swab tests are now being introduced to primary, secondary schools and some nurseries across North Yorkshire to allow teaching staff and secondary pupils to receive regular, voluntary tests for coronavirus.
The tests are designed to allow staff teaching in primary and secondary schools, colleges and maintained nurseries to test themselves regularly twice a week.
Young people in Year 7 and above will also be able to receive the tests before returning to school.
Rapid testing is designed to limit the spread of the virus by helping identify asymptomatic cases. Almost a third of all cases of coronavirus include people without symptoms.
The tests will be in addition to existing safety measures already in place in schools, such as teaching children in bubbles, good ventilation, social distancing and frequent hand washing.
Tests are voluntary for adults and young people and no child or young person will be tested without informed consent from an appropriate adult or carer.
Pupils will not be prevented from receiving face-to-face education if they are not tested.
North Yorkshire County Council says it will match up schools who do not have enough staff to carry out the testing with volunteers, and help those without a space suitable for testing find an alternative site.