News | Published April 08 2020

School closures due to Covid-19 may not be justified

According to the United Nations, there have been 188 countries with national school closures, affecting 1,576,021,818 learners in order to mediate the outbreak of Covid-19. However, researchers suggest that these closures may be inconsequential.

Academics at University College London indicate that closing schools across the UK may have a “relatively small effect” on preventing the spread of Covid-19.

The Lancet study produced by UCL stated that the evidence for the effectiveness of school closures and other school social distancing measures to be based on data arising entirely from influenza outbreaks, for which transmission of the virus tends to be driven by children noting that Covid-19 behaves differently towards children than the flu.

Professor Peter Collignon, an infectious diseases physician and microbiologist at Canberra Hospital, notes: “Kids are unusual in that they represent across the world, less than two per cent of all cases.”

Dr. Jennifer Nuzzo, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Centre for Health Security, for the New York Times wrote: “If children don’t experience severe illness from or contribute to the spread of Covid-19 — and so far we have found no clear evidence that they do — it’s likely that school closings will have little effect on its spread.”

Academics suggested that school closures alone would prevent only two to four per cent of deaths.

Imperial College London Professor Neil Ferguson disagrees with the Lancet study, stating it fails to acknowledge the impact that school closures can have alongside other lockdown measures: “When combined with intense social distancing it plays an important role in severing remaining contacts between households and thus ensuring transmission declines.” Professor Ferguson aided the scientific model the government used to advise such closures.

The approach taken by the UK is not shared by all, Taiwan and Singapore have been recognised as effectively minimising the spread of Covid-19 whilst avoiding widespread school closures.

Some British experts believe that the impact of school closures upon the spread of Covid-19 combined with the detrimental social and economic effects means that schools should be reopened.

The UK government says it will be guided by science in relation to any removal of restrictions they have enforced to suppress the disease.

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Authored by

Elizabeth Highfield
April 08 2020

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