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Children's Commissioner says schools should stay open 'no matter what'

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The Children’s Commissioner for England, Anne Longfield, has warned of the difficulties of schools sending large groups of pupils home.

Over 99 per cent of schools have been open every week since term began, with over 7.3 million pupils attending last week.

Speaking to The Telegraph, the Children’s Commissioner said schools should stay open "no matter what". However, some schools have been “sending entire year groups home for a fortnight because a single pupil tests positive for COVID-19, something that is actually against Government guidance”.

Our guidance makes clear: If anyone in the school becomes unwell with a new and persistent cough or a high temperature, or has a loss of or change in, their normal sense of taste or smell (anosmia), they must be sent home and advised to follow. Individuals may also need to self-isolate if they have had close contact with the confirmed case. Close contact means:

  • direct close contacts - face to face contact with an infected individual for any length of time, within 1 metre, including being coughed on, a face to face conversation, or unprotected physical contact (skin-to-skin)
  • proximity contacts - extended close contact (within 1 to 2 metres for more than 15 minutes) with an infected individual
  • travelling in a small vehicle, like a car, with an infected person.

As the UK’s Chief Medical Officers have made clear: the risk of catching coronavirus at school is low, meaning that the wider risks to children being out of school is, in fact, far greater.

In March we launched a dedicated helpline for schools, parents, and pupils to get the latest information and support. Schools do not need to report a case to the helpline. To report a confirmed case, schools should advise their local authority and fill out the daily online education status form.

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