Risk review of pupils going back to school

HEALTH experts in Jersey are to consider national reports which examine the potential risk of secondary school pupils spreading coronavirus.


The government is expecting to update parents, pupils and teachers about the new term later this month.

At this stage, Jersey pupils are expected to return full-time from September, incorporating measures such as staggered starts, different break times and ‘bubble’ arrangements for classes and year groups.

Research from Public Health England has been the focus of recent media reports in the UK, with some sources saying the research suggested that secondary-school pupils can transmit coronavirus as easily as adults.

Health experts have previously said that children do not easily spread the virus.

Public Health England researchers are reported to be disconcerted with the way the findings – which are yet to be fully analysed or published – have been construed by UK ministers, who have thus far not mentioned the supposedly growing risk.

The Daily Telegraph reported that Downing Street had asked England’s chief medical officer Chris Whitty to carry out a rapid review of the available schools research amid concerns that parents needed more reassurance before the planned return of English pupils next month.

Studies in The Lancet Child And Adolescent Health journal have also been flagged in the UK media. This included research from New South Wales in Australia which found that the risk of children and staff transmitting the virus in educational settings was very low when contact tracing and ‘epidemic management’ was in place.

A spokesperson for the Government of Jersey said that the preliminary findings referred to would be considered once published later this year.

At this stage, the spokesperson said there was no reason that the scheduled start of the autumn term should be affected.

‘The Scientific and Technical Advisory Cell has recommended that, if the Covid-19 situation in the Island remains stable, all children should return full-time to school in September, following increasing evidence that both the incidence and the severity of the virus in children is low,’ a statement read. ‘Current data also indicates that children do not play a significant role in the spread of the virus.

‘Schools will update parents on specific opening arrangements before the start of the new term. Schools will be working differently from September, under public health advice, with staggered starts, different break arrangements, and “bubble” arrangements for classes and year groups.

‘Further information will be issued towards the end of the summer holiday to confirm the Covid-19 situation at that time.’

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