Health policy

Ministers rejected school reopening plan recommended by Sage experts | Education

School leaders said the government’s publication of scientific advice failed to make a convincing case for the early reopening of schools in England, as the government’s chief scientific adviser said an effective testing and tracking system was necessary for more pupils to return to the classroom. After pressure from teaching unions, the government published 12 documents presented to its Sage committee of scientific advisers looking at the effect of coronavirus on children and how schools could safely reopen to more…

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When will UK schools reopen – and how will they keep children safe? | Education

In just over a fortnight, the first pupils in England should start returning to school for the first time since 20 March. But a lot remains unclear. Who will be be returning first and when? According to a plan for English schools unveiled by Boris Johnson, from 1 June primary schools will bring back reception, year one and year six classes, as well as nursery children, if they have them. Also, nurseries and other early years providers would open. In…

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Teaching unions vow to work towards reopening English schools | Education

Teaching unions say they are willing to work with the government to begin reopening schools in England as long as it can be done safely, amid concerns about a renewed coronavirus outbreak. The debate over Boris Johnson’s decision to return some primary pupils to classrooms on 1 June has grown increasingly acrimonious after the British Medical Association (BMA) backed teaching unions who said the government was moving too quickly. Pressure on the unions increased after the children’s commissioner for England…

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Prioritise play when schools reopen, say mental health experts | Education

Child mental health experts have urged the government to prioritise children’s play and socialising with friends over formal lessons and academic progress when schools in England reopen and lockdown restrictions are eased. They say they are “extremely concerned” about the impact of the lockdown and more than six weeks without face-to-face play with peers on child mental health. They are calling on ministers to ensure that play is at the top of newly permitted activities. The UK government has said…

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Not yet safe for UK schools to reopen amid coronavirus crisis, unions warn | Education

Schools must not reopen until a UK-wide “test, trace and isolate” scheme is under way and families believe it is safe for children to return to the classroom, a coalition of unions representing school leaders and staff has told the government. The joint statement by the Trades Union Congress says there should be “no increase in pupil numbers until full rollout of a national test and trace scheme”. It calls for funds to provide staff with personal protective equipment (PPE)…

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School closures have little impact on spread of coronavirus – study | Education

School closures are likely to have a relatively small impact on the spread of Covid-19 and should be weighed against their profound economic and social consequences, particularly for the most vulnerable children, according to a UK study. The research, led by University College London (UCL), is the first to look at evidence behind many governments’ decision to shut schools and keep pupils at home. According to the UN’s education body, Unesco, more than 90% of the world’s pupils have been…

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Complete shutdown of UK universities due to Covid-19 ‘impossible’ | Education

University vice-chancellors have told the government they cannot completely shut down if the coronavirus outbreak worsens because thousands of students would be left with nowhere to go. The higher education regulator for England, the Office for Students (OfS), wrote to all universities on Monday, requesting ongoing information on the number of confirmed and suspected cases of the virus on campus, as well as details of how institutions are responding to them. It is understood that any decisions about whether to…

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