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Covid-19: SAGE expert says schools in England may have to close


If schools stay open in England during the November lockdown, it could mean infection rates stay higher for longer than when nationwide restrictions were introduced in March, a senior scientist warned.

Former chief scientific adviser Sir Mark Walport said the new restrictions are not as "strict" as the first time and there is a "possibility" that the restrictions will have to stay in place for more than four weeks.

In an interview with Skys Sophy Ridge on Sunday, he warned: "It is unlikely that this time it will come down as quickly as the first lockdown because we have schools open."

His comments were echoed by Sir Jeremy Farrar, a member of the government's Scientific Advisory Group on Emergencies (Sage), who said transmission to secondary schools was "high".

He told BBC One's Andrew Marr Show, “The big difference from the initial lockdown is that schools stay open.

“Since we have delayed the start of this lockdown, it will be more difficult to keep schools open.

“We know that transmission is particularly high in secondary schools.

SAGE advisor Sir Jeremy Farrar said the government may need to reconsider keeping schools open during the lockdown if the transfer rate in secondary schools does not drop

“Personally, I think this is definitely the lockdown that needs to be put in place now, but if this carryover continues to increase, especially in secondary schools, it may need to be checked again in the next four weeks to bring R below one and the Reduce epidemic. & # 39;

The National Education Union has urged the government to close schools and colleges with the introduction of new national restrictions in England. If this is not done, the measures will be less effective.

His joint secretary general Kevin Courtney said, "We think it's a really missed opportunity, it's another half-measure, and without school closings as part of it, it's unlikely to have the effect the Prime Minister wanted."

But Cabinet Secretary Michael Gove suggested that the government wanted to keep students in classrooms, even if it meant extending the lockdown.

"I don't think that would be the case, but I do believe that we want to keep the schools open and I believe that the actions we are taking will enable us to do this," he told Marr.

Labor has said it supports keeping schools open. Party leader Sir Keir Starmer said they have to "stay open, but we have to get the risk under control".

Michael Gove, pictured on the Andrew Marr Show, has guaranteed that schools will not be closed under any circumstances under the national lockdown, despite concerns from SAGE experts

Michael Gove, pictured on the Andrew Marr Show, has guaranteed that schools will not be closed under any circumstances under the national lockdown, despite concerns from SAGE experts

Labor leader Sir Keir Starmer insisted classrooms should not be closed if England closes shop for four weeks from Thursday, despite unions calling for them to close

Labor leader Sir Keir Starmer insisted that classrooms should not be closed if England closes the store for four weeks from Thursday, despite unions calling for them to close

Sir Keir Starmer got himself on a collision path with unions teaching today, stating that schools must remain open during the next lockdown for the good of the children.

The Labor leader insisted that classrooms should not be closed if England closes shop for four weeks from Thursday.

Boris Johnson announced that schools, colleges and universities will be exempt from the four-week closure, which begins Thursday.

Schools are responsible for ensuring that they implement Covid-safe practices such as staggered break times, one-way systems and wearing masks in hallways.

Similarly, universities will also be allowed to stay open with existing social distancing measures and a mix of online and face-to-face teaching, provided that it is safe to do so.

Students are expected to obey lockdown rules on campus and only leave their homes for legitimate reasons, such as educational purposes.

It has yet to be confirmed whether students will be allowed to go home over the Christmas period.

Last night, the National Education Union's Joint Secretary General Kevin Courtney called for schools to be included in the new lockdown restrictions, saying it was a "mistake" to allow them to stay open.

And the University and College Union (UCU) said it would be "incomprehensible" if classes were to continue in person during the new lockdown.

Commenting on Courtney's view of the BBC's Andrew Marr show, Mr Courtmer said today, “I want schools to open. I think the harm to children if they don't go to school is too great. We have to get the risk under control, but the priority is to keep schools open.

“We have to make sure they are as safe as possible. The government should conduct effective tests in schools.

"Put children, teachers, and staff at the top of the line just like NHS staff to make sure we control them."

The National Education Union's joint secretary general Kevin Courtney called for schools to be included in the lockdown restrictions, saying it was a "mistake" to allow them to stay open

The National Education Union's joint secretary general Kevin Courtney called for schools to be included in the lockdown restrictions, saying it was a "mistake" to allow them to stay open

Jo Grady (pictured) of the University and College Union (UCU) said it was "incomprehensible" for classes to continue in person during the new lockdown

Jo Grady (pictured) of the University and College Union (UCU) said it was "incomprehensible" for classes to continue in person during the new lockdown

Mr Courtney said that failing to involve schools and colleges in new lockdown measures would likely result in even longer lockdowns being required in the future.

"The latest numbers from the ONS assume 1 percent of elementary school students and 2 percent of secondary school students have the virus, and those numbers have risen dramatically since it opened in September," he said.

The NEW analysis of the ONS numbers shows that the virus levels are now nine times higher in primary school students and an astonishing 50 times higher in secondary school students.

& # 39; The National Education Union called for a two-week break from the school year to include schools, which the Government of Wales and the Northern Ireland Assembly have done – but the Westminster government has ignored that call.

"As a result, more stringent measures are needed now. The government shouldn't make that mistake again."

“The government should involve all schools in proposals for an immediate national lockdown, and at least prepare for school rotas at the end of that period, including by keeping its promise to provide broadband and equipment to the children who don't have them.

"It is also important that the government ensure adequate financial support for everyone affected by the lockdown, including key care faculty and other staff."

Teaching unions are already calling for schools to close on Saturday despite Boris Johnson's insistence that they stay open during a new national lockdown

Teaching unions are already calling for schools to close on Saturday despite Boris Johnson's insistence that they stay open during a new national lockdown

Today the NEU announced that more than 100,000 teachers and support workers have supported their call for schools to be closed.

Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham said schools should be closed to resolve cases and "avoid a scenario where large parts of the Northwest simply move back to Tier 3".

“I would suggest a two week period in the second half of November to give schools time to prepare for online learning, but that would set the stage for the biggest drop in cases we could achieve, and then set the stage. " For some kind of Christmas for more families because they need it right now, ”he said.

During a joint press conference with Liverpool City Mayor Steve Rotheram, Burnham said that sending children to school and then sending them home is not great, causing more harm to children.

According to the Manchester Evening News, he added that the government should reverse the cuts in schools and make digital teaching widely available.

Mr Rotheram said the government had told northern leaders that 25 percent of infections would be transmitted in educational institutions – the same percentage as in the hospitality industry.

Mr Burnham added that it was "really important" that the decision to keep schools and universities open should not just be accepted and discussed in Parliament.

Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham agrees with education unions that schools and universities should close under national lockdown restrictions due Thursday

Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham agrees with education unions that schools and universities should close under national lockdown restrictions due Thursday

He also urged the government to listen to Marcus Rashford and offer free school meals.

The numbers compiled by the UCU suggest that more than 35,000 cases have occurred on campus since the tenure began last month.

UCU General Secretary Jo Grady said, “The country's health and safety is at risk because this government insists that universities must continue to teach personally.

“It would be incomprehensible if universities could keep doing this after the outbreaks we saw at sites across the country this semester.

"Ministers must instruct universities to put all non-essential face-to-face courses online under a national lockdown."

The committee has been campaigning for a total postponement online for some time and previously started a petition demanding that the change take place “where possible”.

Boris Johnson announced the new lockdown, saying the clinical advice was that school was the best place for kids.

He said, “Our senior doctors still advise that school is the best place for children.

“We cannot allow this virus to harm our children's future any more than it has done so far, and I urge parents to keep taking their children to school.

"I am very grateful to teachers across the country for their commitment to keep schools open."

Anne Longfield, England's Commissioner for Children, said the proposal to keep schools open was "very welcome" and that it would be a "disaster" if they close

Anne Longfield, England's Commissioner for Children, said the proposal to keep schools open was "very welcome" and that it would be a "disaster" if they close

Anne Longfield, the England Commissioner for Children, said it was "very welcome" that schools remain open, adding that it would have been a "disaster" if they closed.

Her comments were echoed by prominent headmistress Katharine Birbalsingh, who said it was "wonderful" that schools are staying open.

Ms. Longfield wrote on Twitter ahead of the widely anticipated announcement: “Suggestions that schools remain open during an impending lockdown are very welcome.

“We have always said schools should be the last to close and the first to open. It would be a disaster for the well-being and education of the children if they closed. & # 39;

She added that schools have been able to stay open since September because she and the teachers have done a "fantastic job" of making them "Covid Safe".

"Our survey of children found that children were happy to be back in school, felt safe, and understood all the rules," she said.

Chris McGovern of the Campaign for Real Education has beaten the unions for calling for schools to close, saying that closing them would only widen the gap between the privileged and the underprivileged.

Chris McGovern of Campaign for Real Education said schools should stay open at all costs

Chris McGovern of Campaign for Real Education said schools should stay open at all costs

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson agreed that schools must remain open for the good of the children

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson agreed that schools must remain open for the good of the children

He told MailOnline: “For the disadvantaged children, the school is their oasis, a safe place for them, so the schools must remain open at all costs.

“Closing schools will widen the gap between the privileged and the underprivileged, and the impact on society would be very harmful.

“About four million children had very little support when they were last locked, and that is unacceptable.

“There is a case where older teachers should be extra careful, but the risk for other teachers is no different from that for those who work in supermarkets or other key workers.

“The unions are politicizing the matter and fueling parents' fears. But it's very simple – the children should come first.

"It's just about how we can put kids first."

Ms. Birbalsingh, director of the Michaela Community School in Wembley, North West London, also welcomed the news.

She told MailOnline: I think it's wonderful that the schools stay open.

“All children have suffered from their learning, but they are all the more disadvantaged and without open schools I really fear for their well-being.

& # 39; It's important to keep them open. I am very grateful that they remain open not only to the children, but also to me. I get to work every day and I love that.

"Well, I suppose the unions will do what the unions do and the rest of us will get on with the work."

Ms. Birbalsingh spoke about her own students, many of whom are from disadvantaged backgrounds, and said they “suffered” earlier this year when schools closed.

& # 39; We did zoom lessons, we did video lessons, we used Google Classroom, our kids completed the work and attended the lessons.

Katharine Birbalsingh, the headmistress of the top performing MIchael Community School at Wembley, northwest London, told MailOnline it was "wonderful" that the schools are staying open

Katharine Birbalsingh, the headmistress of the top performing MIchael Community School at Wembley, northwest London, told MailOnline it was "wonderful" that the schools are staying open

The NEU said that failing to involve schools would likely result in lengthy lockdowns in the future. Pictured: An employee wearing PPE tests a student's temperature upon arrival

The NEU said that failing to involve schools would likely result in lengthy lockdowns in the future. Pictured: An employee wearing PPE tests a student's temperature upon arrival

“But when they came back, they couldn't be tested with Zoom. It just meant that they did the job but didn't stick, and that despite all the boxes, they'd made very little progress, "she added.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson previously suggested that at the end of the current college semester, students may need to self-isolate to safely return home and be with their families for Christmas.

Earlier this week it was reported that more than half of secondary schools have students who are self-isolating due to Covid-19.

About 6 to 7 percent of state students did not attend a class on October 22 for reasons of the coronavirus, according to statistics from the Ministry of Education (DfE).

About 26 percent of schools, excluding those at halftime, said they had one or more students self-isolating at school due to possible contact with a Covid-19 case, compared with 21% the week before .

This corresponds to 55 percent of secondary schools and 20 percent of primary schools.

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