Commenting on the latest infection data published by the Office for National Statistics, which shows 1,530 infections per 100,000 among secondary-age children and 1,190 cases per 100,000 among primary and nursery-age children at 30 October, Kevin Courtney, Joint General Secretary of the National Education Union, said:
“Cases amongst secondary-age pupils fell back during the week of the half-term closure - from 50x the rate on 1 September to 38x that rate. This confirms the role of schools in the transmission of the virus. It shows that Boris Johnson’s reluctance to make use of half term for a circuit breaker was a squandered opportunity to fight back against the spread of Covid.
“We should expect the rates in secondary schools to begin to rise again after the half-term effect, and along with them the number of children who are off school.
“The Prime Minister must prioritise schools for access to rapid turnaround tests like those being trialled in Liverpool, and should be making plans for secondary schools and sixth form colleges to move to a rota operation where children are taught every lesson but are at home some of the time.
“The Government is failing in its responsibilities to provide a strategy to break transmissions in schools and colleges. Instead they are persisting with a lockdown which excludes education settings and only serves to allow the spread to continue. This is dangerous and clearly puts at risk staff, young people, their families and wider communities.”
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