SCHOOLS must rank above pubs when it comes to future lockdowns, the children’s watchdog has declared.
Children’s Commissioner Anne Longfield stressed that schools must be closed only as a last resort.
They should also have priority over restaurants and shops, she added.
She argued that in the event of local or national lockdowns, pubs, restaurants and non-essential shops should be shut first.
She last night published a paper setting out key actions needed to ensure kids are “at the heart” of future crisis plans.
Ms Longfield said children had often been “an afterthought” during lockdown.
She called for regular testing of pupils and teachers, regardless of symptoms.
On future closures, she wrote: “If the choice has to be made in a local area about whether to keep pubs or schools open, then schools must always take priority.
“Education should be prioritised over other sectors: first to open, last to close.”
Her warning comes after a study implied that reopening schools next month must be combined with a test-trace-isolate strategy to avoid a second wave of Covid-19.
Her briefing paper says that rapid testing of pupils and teachers could allow any confirmed cases and their close contacts to be isolated without necessarily having to send entire classes or year groups home.
Ms Longfield said if schools have to shut, they should stay open for key workers’ kids and vulnerable children.
Ministers are drawing up plans to legally compel schools to open next month — except those in lockdowns.
Last night the Government announced £2billion of funding for improving school and college buildings.
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