Coronavirus (COVID-19)

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Petition Keep schools closed until Covid 19 is no longer a threat

The threat of covid19 is real. Children can’t be expected to maintain sufficient social distancing to keep this virus from spreading. They are social creatures. Allowing them back to school could cause a new spike in cases. They could bring it back home, even if they are a-symptomatic.

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Maintain school closures for the foreseeable future. Do not risk our children becoming carriers of the disease that we have sacrificed our freedom, and more importantly, our lives to beat. Until transmission rates have reduced to a level where the life, health, and economy can be ensured, instate methods to keep children safe, stop the spread, stay home, protect the NHS, protect us all and save lives.

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Parliament will debate this petition

Parliament will debate this petition on 7 December 2020.

You'll be able to watch online on the UK Parliament YouTube channel.

Government responded

This response was given on 25 November 2020

Government’s priority is that all pupils remain in school full-time. For the vast majority of young people, the benefits of being back in school far outweigh the low risk from coronavirus (COVID-19)

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Returning to school full time has been vital for children’s education and for their wellbeing. Time out of school is detrimental for children’s cognitive and academic development, particularly for disadvantaged children. This impact can affect both current levels of learning and children’s future ability to learn. School is the best place for children to learn, and it is important for their mental wellbeing to have social interactions with their peers, carers and teachers.

Schools have been open to all pupils since the start of the autumn term with figures showing, on average, over 99% of schools are open each day. Approximately, 89% of pupils on roll were in attendance in state-funded schools as of 5 November.

The risk to children themselves of becoming severely ill from coronavirus (COVID-19) is low and there are negative health impacts of being out of school. Senior clinicians, including the Chief Medical Officers of all four nations, still advise that school is the very best place for children to be, and so they should continue to go to school. We have taken a national decision to prioritise education during the current period of national restrictions in order to avoid any further reduction in face to face education for children and young people.

Schools have implemented a range of protective measures to minimise risk of transmission.

We published ‘Guidance for full opening: schools’ (1*) to support schools to welcome back all children full-time. Our guidance sets out measures which provide a framework for school leaders to put in place proportionate protective measures for children and staff, which also ensure that all pupils receive a high quality education that enables them to thrive and progress. This includes the public health advice schools must follow to minimise the risks of coronavirus (COVID-19) transmission.

The measures set out in the department’s guidance to minimise the risk of transmission in schools has been endorsed by Public Health England. These include regular handwashing, promoting good respiratory hygiene, keeping groups separate and maintaining distance and minimising contact between individuals.

Consistent groups reduce the risk of transmission by limiting the number of pupils and staff in contact with each other to only those within the group. They have been used in recognition that children, especially the youngest children, cannot socially distance from staff or from each other and this provides an additional protective measure. Maintaining distinct groups or ‘bubbles’ that do not mix makes it quicker and easier in the event of a positive case to identify those who may need to self-isolate and keep that number as small as possible.

From 5 November, following guidance on New National Restrictions in school settings, children whose doctors have confirmed they are still clinically extremely vulnerable are advised not to attend education whilst the national restrictions are in place. Schools will need to make appropriate arrangements to enable them to continue their education at home. Children who live with someone who is clinically extremely vulnerable, but who are not clinically extremely vulnerable themselves, should continue to attend education (2*)

If parents have concerns about their child attending school because they consider they or members of their household may have particular risk factors, they should discuss these with their school.

We will continue to keep the evidence, particularly on the transmission rate and wider risks on health, under review so that we can continue to support schools to remain open and provide the education that children deserve.

(1*)https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/actions-for-schools-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak/guidance-for-full-opening-schools

(2*)https://www.gov.uk/guidance/education-and-childcare-settings-new-national-restrictions-from-5-november-2020#schools

Department for Education

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