Education: Coronavirus

Department for Education written question – answered on 24th January 2022.

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Photo of Matt Western Matt Western Shadow Minister (Education)

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent assessment he has made of the validity of the scientific guidance on the risks of transmission of covid-19 during face-to-face teaching.

Photo of Robin Walker Robin Walker The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland, Minister of State (Education)

The department regularly considers advice from a number of different sources, including the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies and the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), to ensure our policies are guided by the most up to date scientific evidence. The current COVID-19 operational guidance for schools balances the government’s priority to deliver high quality face-to-face education to all pupils with the need to retain measures to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19. The evidence is clear that being out of education causes significant harm to educational attainment, life chances, mental and physical health.

The department has published its own evidence summaries at three points during the COVID-19 outbreak, bringing together high quality evidence from government commissioned research as well as research published in academic journals. The evidence summary can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/evidence-summary-covid-19-children-young-people-and-education-settings.

Public Health England (now the UKHSA) previously published a rapid review of available evidence relevant to interventions to reduce transmission in schools, which remains relevant, although precedes the full rollout of vaccinations since April 2021 until now: https://ukhsa.koha-ptfs.co.uk/cgi-bin/koha/opac-retrieve-file.pl?id=9adedb17d5622f9cd7e42febcadb19ad.

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