The prime minister’s “big bang” return for all school children on a single day was unveiled just hours after new data revealed that teachers are at greater risk of testing positive for Covid than most other occupations, contrary to frequent assurances from government that this is not the case.
Teaching unions were alarmed by the publication of documents by Sage, the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies, warning that the opening of primary and secondary schools could increase R by up to 50%.
The testing of primary pupils has been ruled out for the time being, but in secondary schools and colleges, students will be expected to undergo three tests on site in the first two weeks following return, after which families will be supplied with kits for home testing twice a week.
Testing is not compulsory and will be based on trust. The lateral flow devices, which have been criticised by some experts because of concerns about poor accuracy.
“Logistically the very best that can happen is that some year groups will not return to face to face lessons until the week beginning March 15. We then have to consider the effects of those children who refuse tests and after that then see if home testing is in anyway reliable.”
Publically available data on daily Covid-19 infections are currently double the daily infection rate of the peak during the first wave of the pandemic.