Coronavirus: Older People

Department for Education written question – answered on 4th 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 increased risk of COVID-19 to those over (1) 70, and (2) 50, years old who live with children who are due to return to school.

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

As a result of the huge efforts everyone has made to adhere to strict social distancing measures, the transmission rate of COVID-19 has decreased and the government’s five tests have been met. Based on all the evidence, the department has asked primary schools to welcome back children in nursery, Reception, year 1 and year 6, alongside priority groups (vulnerable children and children of critical workers), from 1 June. From 15 June, secondary schools can invite year 10 and 12 pupils (years 10 and 11 for alternative provision schools) back into school for some face-to-face support with their teachers, to supplement their remote education, which will remain the predominant mode of education for these pupils this term. Priority groups can continue to attend full-time.

Relating to COVID-19, people who are aged 70 or older, regardless of medical conditions, are considered clinically vulnerable.

If a child in the year groups identified for return lives with someone who is clinically vulnerable (but not clinically extremely vulnerable) they can attend their school.

We have provided guidance to schools on GOV.UK on implementing protective measures to lower the risk of transmission. These include protective measures such as ensuring that anyone with symptoms does not attend their nursery, school or college, promoting high standards of hand and respiratory hygiene, regular cleaning of touched surfaces, and minimising contact and mixing. This guidance is available here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-implementing-protective-measures-in-education-and-childcare-settings/coronavirus-covid-19-implementing-protective-measures-in-education-and-childcare-settings.

It sets out that if a child or young person lives in a household with someone who is extremely clinically vulnerable it is advised they only attend their nursery, school or college if stringent social distancing can be adhered to and they are able to understand and follow those instructions. This may not be possible for very young children and older children without the capacity to adhere to the instructions on social distancing. If stringent social distancing cannot be adhered to, we do not expect those individuals to attend. They should instead be supported to learn at home.

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