BORIS Johnson today told parents schools are safe – but a SAGE adviser warned kids are seven times more likely to bring Covid home.
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Children are meant to return to class from Monday, but unions are trying to force schools to stay shut – and SAGE experts say pupils might not fully return to lessons until February.
Today on the Andrew Marr Show the PM said: “I understand people’s frustrations, I understand people’s anxieties, but there is no doubt in my mind schools are safe.”
He told parents to send their kids back to primary schools tomorrow “in areas where schools are open”.
Also appearing on the show, SAGE adviser Professor Mark Walport said: “It’s transmitted more readily in younger age groups as well. It is going to be very difficult to keep it under control without much tighter social restrictions.
“We know that a person between 12 and 16 is seven times more likely than others in a household to bring the infection into a household.”
He warned tougher restrictions might be needed, saying: “Thinking about breaking every possible route of transmission we possibly can – those are the things that are absolutely necessary, and it is pretty clear we are going to need more.”
The PM hinted tougher national restrictions may be introduced, saying: “It may be that we need to do things in the next few weeks that will be tougher in many parts of the country. I’m fully, fully reconciled to that.”
He added: “There are obviously a range of tougher measures that that we would have to consider… I’m not going to speculate now about what they would be, but I’m sure that all our viewers and our listeners will understand what the sort of things… clearly school closures, which we had to do in March is one of those things.”
Expected return dates for schools
Amanda Spielman said kids’ time outside of class should be kept to the “absolute minimum” as militant unions join forces to keep schools shut.
Writing in The Telegraph, she said pupils can’t afford to wait.
“It is clear that children’s lives cannot just be put on hold while we wait for vaccination programmes to take effect, and for waves of infection to subside,” she said.
“We cannot furlough young people’s learning or their wider development. The longer the pandemic continues, the more true this is.”
The Government has faced chaos over education as a mutant strain of Covid surges through the UK.
On Friday night, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson announced primary schools in London will stay closed in a dramatic U-turn – just days after officials said much of the provision for younger pupils wouldn’t be affected.
Primaries across Covid hotspots across London and the South East will stay shut for most kids for at least another two weeks – and could stay closed longer if their infection rates do not come down.
They will open for the kids of key workers, and vulnerable children.
SCHOOLS IN OR OUT?
A staggering 1.05 million primary kids will have to be home-schooled because of the shutdown.
While secondary schools in these areas could also stay shut. They will hear their fate on January 13.
Across the rest of the country the return of secondary schools has been delayed a week.
Grilled on the U-turn, Mr Williamson insisted he was left with no choice after the new mutant strain of Covid swept through swathes of England at lightning speed.
And he hinted that teachers will be put at the front of the queue for the jab – but only after the most vulnerable are inoculated.
He said: “When we look at future waves of a rollout of a vaccine, as you can imagine, as Education Secretary I’ll be wanting to see teachers and all those support staff being up there on that list getting that vaccine.”
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The call comes amid fury that more than 1 million primary school kids in the worst Covid hotspots will not return to the classroom as planned.
Experts begged ministers to use the many millions of doses of the Oxford vaccine to inoculate England’s army of school staff.
They said this is the only way to get kids back to class quickly and prevent a massive education postcode lottery opening up.