Children are more likely to be harmed if they miss school than if they catch coronavirus, the UK’s chief medical officers have warned.
In a joint statement, the advisers said children have an “exceptionally low risk of dying” from Covid-19.
They said “very few, if any” children and teenagers would come to long-term harm from the virus solely by attending school, while there was a “certainty” of harm from not returning.
Signatories to the consensus statement included Scotland’s Dr Gregor Smith, England’s Professor Chris Whitty, Wales’ Dr Frank Atherton and Northern Ireland’s Dr Michael McBride.
The chief and deputy chief medical officers said schools were not a “common route of transmission”, and that teachers were not at any increased risk of dying compared to the general working-age population.
But they noted that data from UK and international studies suggested transmission in schools may be largely staff to staff rather than pupils to staff.
The statement said: “This reinforces the need to maintain social distancing and good infection control inside and outside classroom settings, particularly between staff members and between older children and adults.”
The advisers also noted that reopening schools has not usually been followed by a surge in Covid-19 transmission but it could push the reproduction rate – the so-called R rate – above one.
Pupils in Scotland have returned to school on in recent weeks following a lengthy shutdown, and all were supposed to be back full-time from August 18.
However, it’s not been a smooth resumption of full-time education for all schools amid a spate of Covid-19 clusters across the country.
North-east Glasgow has seen 16 confirmed cases, some of which are linked to Bannerman High school in Baillieston.
There are also cases at three different high schools in North Lanarkshire: St Andrew’s High and St Ambrose High in Coatbridge and at Caldervale High in Airdrie.
An entire primary school class and their teacher are in isolation at St Albert’s Primary in Pollokshields, Glasgow, after a confirmed case.
Two primary pupils at two different schools in Perth and Kinross are self-isolating after contracting the virus. One pupil attends Newhill Primary School in Blairgowrie and the other attends Oakbank Primary School in Perth.
And Kingspark School in Dundee, an additional support needs school, is closed after eight adults connected to the school tested positive.
Meanwhile, Aberdeen’s Oldmachar Academy shut earlier on Friday for deep cleaning after one Covid infection was identified.
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