A group of senior scientists warned that on June 1, it is too early for schools to reopen safely and that more time is needed to establish an effective tracking and tracking system to contain future outbreaks.
O Independent Sage The committee, chaired by ex-government chief scientist Sir David King, says the new modeling of the coronavirus shows that the risk for children will be halved if they return to school two weeks later than the ministers propose. The delay until September further reduced the risk.
The extra two weeks would give more time for infections to fall in the community and for the crucial tracking and tracing capabilities to be created, so that new cases could be found and isolated quickly.
“It is clear from the evidence we have collected that June 1 is too early to return. By moving forward with this dangerous decision, the government is risking even more the health of our communities and the likelihood of a second peak, ”said Professor King.
In a consultation draft published on Friday, experts say local authorities must demonstrate low levels of infection and the ability to contain new infections before schools reopen, with public consultation being a "vital" part of the decision-making process. decision.
The report asks authorities to consider summer camps and outdoor schools to educate children with community playgrounds and sports clubs required for teaching purposes.
King said the decision when to reopen schools was a "careful balance", but added that it was vital for young people to return to the classroom as soon as it was safe to do so. "The current climate is likely to disproportionately affect the most disadvantaged in society, so it is vital that the government also consider innovative ways to help those who need it most."
Professor King established the Independent Sage committee amid concerns about the lack of transparency surrounding the scientific advice reached by ministers of the government's Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), co-chaired by chief scientific consultant Patrick Vallance and the chief medical officer from England, Professor Chris. Whitty.
Paul Whiteman, secretary general of the NAHT school leaders union, said: “Support for a fixed date for school return is quickly disappearing. What is needed now is local flexibility to determine when schools are certain to open up to more students, informed by evidence of what is happening in their local area. "
The Independent Sage committee will host an online discussion at noon on Friday for teachers, parents, children and union representatives, in association with the British Medical Journal and Mumsnet. It will be broadcast on the Independent Sage Youtube channel, The committee Facebook page, on Twitter via @independentSAGE and @Sir_David_King and BMJ home page.