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To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment his Department has made of potential effect of the decision to reopen schools following the covid-19 lockdown on the number of acute respiratory outbreaks in schools reported by Public Health England on 18 June 2020 in its Weekly coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) surveillance report; and if he will place a copy of that assessment in the Library.
In its weekly coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) surveillance report, Public Health England (PHE) provides information on the number of acute respiratory outbreaks in schools. The Department continues to engage with PHE and other organisations to ensure our guidance reflects the most up to date scientific advice.
We want to get all children and young people back into education as soon as the scientific advice allows because it is the best place for them to learn, and because we know how important it is for their mental wellbeing to have social interactions with their peers, carers and teachers. Children returning to educational and childcare settings in greater numbers will also allow more families to return to work.
In all schools and nurseries, preventing the spread of COVID-19 involves dealing with direct and indirect transmission. Our guidance sets out a range of approaches and actions to do this. These can be seen as a hierarchy of controls that, when implemented, creates an inherently safer system, where the risk of transmission of infection is substantially reduced.