Today, SAGE (the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies) has published papers relating to the latest evidence of incidence and transmission of coronavirus in schools. Here we answer some key questions.
What does SAGE say about the risks to children and young people from keeping schools open ?
The science is clear that children and young people are typically at very low risk from COVID. The disease is much less severe for children, even if they do catch coronavirus.
The SAGE papers provide clear evidence regarding the risks from pupils not being in school. The documents are clear that school closures put educational outcomes at risk, especially for disadvantaged students.
But what about transmissions – surely this is happening in schools?
Transmission to and from children and young people can occur in household, community, and educational settings.
We have ensured that all schools continue to operate with strict safety measures in place to minimise the risk of infection. We have already set out guidance for additional protective measures in schools during the period of national restrictions, including face coverings in communal areas outside classrooms for secondary schools, and CEV staff and students not attending.
So will you close schools now?
We are prioritising children’s and young people’s education and wellbeing, by keeping nurseries, schools, colleges and universities open.
Furthermore, ONS data from 2 September to 16 October show no difference in the positivity rates of pre-school, primary and secondary school teachers and staff, relative to other workers of a similar age
What if cases in schools remain high?
The evidence is clear that reducing cases in the community, should lead to a reduction of cases in schools. Therefore it is precisely because we are taking these national measures that we are able to protect the NHS, save lives, and keep schools open.
We plan on setting out further details of our approach following the national measures in due course.