Commenting as the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) release a statement warning that Covid cases could rise as schools return in Septermber, James Bowen, director of policy for school leaders’ union NAHT, said:
“This is a significant and important statement from Sage and it lays bare the challenges school will likely face next term. It would be naïve to assume that things will be completely back to normal in September. This latest statement shows that scientists expect the number of Covid cases among children and young people to increase when school starts again. Sadly, that means further disruption to pupils’ education seems set to continue.
“Parents and school leaders will therefore be looking to government to keep case numbers as low as possible and do everything in its power to keep that disruption to a bare minimum. As Sage has rightly pointed out, the government has chosen to remove many of the mitigations that were in place in schools last year, and it has done very little to look to replace these with alternative safety measures. Its reason for removing bubbles and isolation requirements was to stop children missing school. But if an increase in cases means more children getting ill, lost learning could actually increase for many.
“A strategy of ‘hoping for the best’ is not good enough, at the very least they must ensure that we have a properly functioning test and trace system that parents can have confidence in, a quick and effective public health response should additional mitigations be required in some schools, and support for schools to improve ventilation wherever needed.
“If numbers do start to rise in the way Sage have predicted, a quick and effective public health response will be essential to keep pupils and staff safe.”
First published 27 August 2021