Coronavirus: Schools

Department for Education written question – answered on 3rd June 2020.

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Photo of Lord Taylor of Warwick Lord Taylor of Warwick Non-affiliated

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact of schools reopening on the circulation of COVID-19.

Photo of Baroness Berridge Baroness Berridge Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for International Trade) (Minister for Women), The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education

The Children’s Task and Finish Working Group, established by the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE), provided consolidated scientific health advice to Government. Advice from this group was used, alongside other sources of information, to inform decision making on the wider opening of schools.

Papers from SAGE meetings are being published in tranches, including those on the Task and Finish Group’s findings. The list of papers which have been released by SAGE are available by following the link below:

https://www.gov.uk/government/groups/scientific-advisory-group-for-emergencies-sage-coronavirus-covid-19-response.

An explanatory note on SAGE’s paper assessing the potential impact of more children returning to school on the transmission of COVID-19 is available here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/department-for-education-explanatory-note-on-sage-modelling.

The Department has issued guidance on implementing a range of protective measures that together create a hierarchy of controls that, when implemented, will create an inherently safer system, where the risk of transmission of infection is reduced. This includes making sure that pupils do not attend if they or a member of their household has COVID-19 symptoms, as well as promoting high standards of hand and respiratory hygiene, cleaning touched surfaces more frequently, and reducing contact and mixing.

As my right hon. Friend, the Prime Minister, set out in his announcement on 11 May 2020, progress on infection rates will be monitored every day. SAGE provides regular estimates of R, which will continue to be monitored both before and after schools open more widely. We will continue to receive advice from the Government Chief Scientific Adviser, the Chief Medical Officer and SAGE.

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