Commenting on new data released today by the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) on the transmission of Covid-19 in schools, Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, said:
“It is clear that whilst we are learning all the time, we are still in the relatively early stages when it comes to understanding this virus. That is particularly true when it comes to the role that schools might play in transmission.
“Government scientists have told us that, at present, there is no direct evidence that shows that children being in school is a significant cause of transmission. Clearly this remains a key question and it is essential that this continues to be monitored closely. We have also been told there is no evidence of a difference in the positivity rates of education staff compared to other key workers and professions, which appears encouraging.
“However, it is clear that pupils of all ages can transmit the virus to each other and to staff and we know that there have been a number of outbreaks in schools. We remain particularly concerned about the spread of the virus amongst older pupils and in secondary schools, especially given that we know that the prevalence of the virus has risen significantly since schools re-opened fully. There are also worrying signs that older pupils could be playing a role in spreading the virus amongst family members, and this must be watched very closely.
“Overall, it remains the case that all education staff are being asked to remain on the front line and it is incumbent upon the government to do more to ensure that all pupils and staff are kept safe. Routine testing and priority access to seasonal flu jabs are just two examples of how they could do this.”
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First published 13 November 2020