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Coronavirus and school closures – Schools reopening predictions

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Today, Wednesday 8 April, the Department for Education has issued a statement in response to reports that schools may reopen after the Easter holidays.

The Times reported this morning on the suggestion the Government may reopen schools in an attempt to kick-start the economy. The same story has since been picked up by multiple other outlets.

Our position on closures is clear: schools will remain closed until the scientific advice indicates it is safe to open them.

A Government Spokesperson said:

“Schools will remain closed until further notice, except for children of critical workers and the children who are most vulnerable.

“We will re-open schools when the scientific advice indicates it is safe to do so.”

School Closure Policies

Throughout the current crisis, the NEU has called for policy decisions to be based on the findings of research and scientific enquiry. It welcomes the systematic review by Professor Viner and his colleagues of the effectiveness of school closure policies in dealing with coronavirus outbreaks, including Covid-19.

KevinCourtney100x100Kevin Courtney, Joint General Secretary of the NEU, said:

“This is an important study, to which those who work in education will give the most careful consideration. We note that it provides no evidence on which to move back from the current strategy adopted by the UK. The review indicates that school closures are effective as part of a combination of tactics of social distancing and testing.  This is the evidence from China, from Hong Kong, and from a modelling study carried out in the UK.

‘In relation to the findings of two Chinese studies, the review notes that both pieces of research conclude that the overall package of quarantine and social distancing, including school closure, was effective in reducing the epidemic in mainland China.

‘Summarising two further studies of Covid-19 in Hong Kong, the review notes that school closures were implemented at the same time as a number of other stringent social distancing measures. Collectively, these measures to held to have controlled the spread of the outbreak.

‘Finally, the review reports the findings of a UK research study, that a combination of measures, again including school closures, would be the most effective.

‘Everyone wants schools to be re-opened as soon as is safely possible. This can only happen on the basis of sound scientific reasoning that school closure is no longer necessary for the suppression of Covid-19. We are a long way from this point. The combination of measures that the government has introduced must remain in place”.

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