GAVIN Williamson has vowed the Government will do “everything in our power” to make sure children return to school next month.
A day after Boris Johnson said it was the country’s “moral duty” to get kids back to class, the Education Secretary welcomed a study by Public Health England that shows there is little evidence of Covid-19 spread in schools.
Youngsters have been out of mainstream education for nearly five months throughout the pandemic. And Mr Williamson said it is now a “national priority” to get them back to their desks for the autumn term.
The Prime Minister is due to visit a school today to see how it has been made Covid-secure for the planned return in England on September 3. Mr Williamson added: “We are continuing to do everything in our power to ensure all children can be back in their classrooms safely.
“We have always been, and will continue to be, guided by scientific and medical advice. The latest research, expected to be published later this year, makes it clear there is little evidence that the virus is transmitted at school.
“There is also growing confidence among parents about their children returning. This is down to the hard work of school staff across the country, who are putting in place a range of protective measures.”
Children’s Commissioner Anne Longfield warned that shutting schools again should be “an absolute last resort” and not a “default option”. She claimed children had been “forgotten in the relaxation” of restrictions and she was “dismayed” when ministers prioritised reopening shops, theme parks and zoos ahead of schools.
But Ms Longfield has called for students and teachers to be tested “weekly” to crackdown on any outbreaks.
Schools minister Nick Gibb has said he did not support the idea, insisting: “The priority for the new 90-minute tests has to be hospitals, care homes, the laboratories.
“The measures we are putting in place — a hierarchy of controls about hygiene and bubbles within schools — are the most effective method of reducing risk.”
On guidance for returning, he added: “There is no need for mask-wearing in the school, provided controls are in place.”
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