Minister insists schools will return in September despite warnings

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

A government minister has insisted that children in England will return to the classroom in September, despite a new report that warns of the potential for a second wave.

A new modelling study implied that a return to the classroom will have to be combined with a high-coverage test-trace-isolate strategy to avoid another spike of Covid-19 later this year.

Speaking with talkRADIO’s Julia Hartley-Brewer, local government minister Simon Clarke said bringing all pupils back on a full time basis when term starts was a “total priority” for the government.

“We are absolutely clear that the impact of children missing so much of their education is enormous and has multi-year consequences for their life chances.

“It is therefore absolutely vital we have a good test and trace system in place to support that and the wider return to normality that we are seeking and we do have a system which is making huge strides now.

The investigation worked by simulating various scenarios to examine the implications of reopening schools and the broader reopening of society, based on the assumption that 70 per cent of parents would return to work when their child went back to school.

The authors found that “with increased levels of testing… and effective contact tracing and isolation, an epidemic rebound might be prevented”.

But in a worst-case scenario, a second wave could be 2.3 times higher than the first, according to the study published in The Lancet Child And Adolescent Health.

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