Pupils from Reception, Year 1 and Year Six started back at school this week as part of the Government’s phased return plan in easing the lockdown. By July all primary school pupils are expected to return and secondary pupils in Year 10 and 12 returning to some contact with their respective campuses, under Boris Johnson’s plan.
In September all schools will be reopened with the remaining year seven to 11 returning to campuses for the start of the school year.
However, researchers warn fully reopening schools could spark a second wave of coronavirus by December.
A study from UCL and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine found the combined effect on pupils and parents with school returning would be enough to cause a second wave without an effective test and trace programme.
Prof Chris Bonell, from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, told the BBC: “Our concern from the data at the moment is test-trace-isolate is not reaching the coverage we think is the minimum.
“There is clearly a risk of a second pandemic wave… I’m worried. The R [rate of virus spread] is a bit below one [the point at which the number of new cases starts to take off again], but the incidence is high so it’s precarious.”
Dr Jasmina Panovska-Griffiths, from UCL, also warned: “Cases are not coming down as much as we wanted”.
She added: “I would caution against reopening schools when we are doing a lot of other interventions and we don’t know the impact of them.
“Everything depends on control of transmission, there is the threat of a second pandemic wave.”
Meanwhile, Dr Ed Hill, from the University of Warwick, also warned: “If we reopen all schools it could push R above 1 in some regions.
“Decisions surrounding reopening of schools are a difficult trade-off between the epidemiological consequences and the needs of the children in terms of educational development.”
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Published at Sat, 06 Jun 2020 07:50:00 +0000