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Coronavirus: Little evidence of Covid transmission in schools, Williamson says



Students in the classroom

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Reuters

There is very little evidence of coronavirus transmission in schools, said Education Secretary Gavin Williamson.

Mr Williamson said the government was being led by better science as it accelerated plans to reopen schools for all students in England next month.

Government advisers have warned that the nation may have reached the limit in what can be safely reopened to society.

But Mr Williamson suggested a future study would support the government̵

7;s position on reopening schools.

His comments came after Prime Minister Boris Johnson said reopening schools, after several months without personal education, was the government’s “national priority”.

The prime minister, who is expected to visit a school later, understandably made it clear that schools should be closed last in any future local blockages, after businesses like shops and drinks.

‘Increasing trust’

The Association of School and College Leaders has said there is a lack of clear guidance from the government and schools are making their own emergency plans.

But the education secretary claims there has been “growing trust among parents about their returning children” in the classroom.

In a statement issued Sunday evening, he said: “This is due to the tireless work of school staff across the country, who are putting in place a series of safeguards to prepare to welcome all students to the beginning of the term “.

Mr Williamson also referred to “the latest research, which is expected to be published later this year – one of the largest studies on coronavirus in schools in the world”, saying “it makes clear that there is little evidence that the virus broadcast at school “.

He is believed to be referring to a forthcoming report to be released by Public Health England.

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Reuters

Image title

Gavin Williamson said there was growing trust among parents for their children returning to school

The Children’s Commissioner for England, Anne Longfield, has called for regular coronavirus testing in schools.

And Education Union Deputy Secretary-General Avis Gilmore said: “Strong follow-up, tracking and testing along with health and safety checks in schools and colleges are needed.”

However, School Secretary Nick Gibb opposed the idea, telling Times Radio on Sunday that he does not support routine testing for teachers and students who have no symptoms.

Schools across the UK closed on 20 March, except for child laborers or vulnerable children. On June 1, they started a limited reopening for early year students, Expectations, Year 1 and Year 6.

The current plan is for most children across the country to return to class next month.

Reopening guidelines have been published for England. There are also separate plans for Wales, Northern Ireland and also Scotland, where schools are scheduled to return by Tuesday.

‘Improve test and track’

Some government science advisers are calling for improvements in the testing and tracking system before schools reopen.

One, Prof. Sir Jeremy Farrar, director of Trust Welfare, said a “short window” before schools open should be “used wisely”. Writing in the Observer he said: “More urgently, we have to do the tests.”

Meanwhile, Labor is calling for a “rapid reform” of the testing and tracking system, suggesting that local health care teams are more effective than national call centers.

Figures released last week by the Department of Health and Social Welfare showed that local teams continued to be more successful than call center staff when it came to achieving close contact with people who tested positive for coronavirus.

In a letter to Health Secretary Matt Hancock, Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth and shadow cabinet minister Rachel Reeves raised concerns that the current model is not “fit for purpose”.

On Sunday, the UK reported that eight other people had died after testing positive for coronavirus, taking a total of 46,574. Another 1,062 people tested positive for Covid-19.

In another development, gyms, swimming pools, leisure centers and children’s play centers are allowed to reopen in Wales on Monday, in a further easing of blocking restrictions.

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