News | Published August 10 2020

Williamson: "Little evidence" that Covid-19 is "transmitted at school"

Education secretary Gavin Williamson has said that there is “little evidence” of Covid-19 transmission occurring in schools, as educational institutions prepare to reopen.

Schools in Scotland will reopen as early as Tuesday this week, while in England they are due to reopen from September.

Williamson said that the government’s plans continue to be guided by the science.

In a statement released on Sunday, Williamson said that the "latest research, which is expected to be published later this year - one of the largest studies on the coronavirus in schools in the world" indicates that “there is little evidence that the virus is transmitted at school”.

Although the government’s scientific advisers have warned that ministers are nearing the limit for the safe reopening of society, Williamson has indicated that an upcoming study may justify the government’s position on reopening schools.

Professor Russell Viner, president of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said that the reopening of schools was “one of the least risky things” the government could do.

Prime minister Boris Johnson reiterated over the weekend that reopening schools was a “national priority”. The PM is expected to visit schools later on Monday.

Johnson has hinted that the government will not hesitate to close other establishments prior to schools should further local lockdowns be required. This follows Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham’s warning that pubs may be among those that need to close to enable schools to reopen safely.

Care minister Helen Whately has said that the priority for the government is to “make sure that children are fully back in school come the autumn."

She added that pupils and teachers would “immediately have access to testing” should it be needed, most likely in the event of a local lockdown.

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Authored by

Alexander Bridge-Wilkinson
Junior Editor
August 10 2020

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