Sending all kids back to school could raise R number to around 1 - according to a SAGE member

Monday, 22nd February 2021, 3:19 pm
Updated Monday, 22nd February 2021, 3:19 pm
Sending all kids back to school could raise R number to around 1 - according to a SAGE member (Photo by OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images)

Sending all children of all age groups back to school on 8 March is likely to increase the Covid R rate to “around 1”, according to a member of the UK Government’s Scientific Advisory Group on Emergencies (SAGE).

Professor John Edmunds told BBC’s Andrew Marr that it might be safer to send children back to school in gradual phases, rather than all at once.

The scientist also said that everyone, including children, needs to be vaccinated to prevent a “significant risk of a resurgence” of Covid-19.

What is the plan for getting children back to school?

While the Prime Minister is due to unveil the roadmap out of lockdown today (22 Feb), it has already been widely reported that the date for all children to return to school is set firmly for 8 March.

Despite concern among many teachers over a full scale return to classrooms, the Government is pushing for it to happen early next month, followed by a gradual easing of other restrictions in the months that follow.

Some have expressed concern that, if schools open too soon, the rate of virus transmission could begin to rise once again, which could lead to further restrictions or even another lockdown further down the line.

‘Safer to take smaller steps’

Professor Edmunds said the UK is in a “really good position” currently. However, he added that it might be safer to open primary schools first, then secondary schools later.

He said: “Obviously I’m just sticking to the epidemiology rather than other needs. Of course there’s great needs to get our kids back in schools as fast as we can.

“But sticking to the epidemiology, yeah, of course, it’s always safer to take smaller steps and evaluate”.

The professor also said that he believes children should be vaccinated “as fast as we can”.

He said: “I have two children myself, they are in secondary schools and I think that there has been major disruption at schools and there will continue to be major disruption in schools until we have vaccinated our children.”