Within only a week of opening, eight schools across the UK have reported coronavirus outbreaks.
SCHOOLS in Greater Manchester, Yorkshire, Leicestershire, Lancashire and Buckinghamshire have so far experienced outbreaks of various sizes. All pupils and teachers that have tested positive have been sent home to self-isolate for two weeks.
Sir William Borlase’s Grammar School in Marlow, Bucks, was in the news recently after it had delayed yesterday’s start of term when 20 pupils tested positive for Covid-19 after returning from a party holiday to the Greek island of Zante. The Welsh and Scottish governments have now added Greece to their quarantine lists after passengers returning from the country fell sick with the disease.
Another school in Buckinghamshire, the Chesham Grammar School, which only resumed classes today, has also reportedly sent some of its pupils home to self-isolate. It is not clear whether this outbreak is related to Sir William Borlase’s Grammar School in Buckinghamshire, where the Zante group from Greece had returned from.
The government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies had warned earlier in August that secondary schools reopening pose a far greater risk than primary schools.
The advisory group had calculated that up to 2.5 million families could be at risk from an outbreak in the education system because they are connected through siblings attending different schools. Conversely, however, Professor Russell Viner has suggested that children would be more at risk of measles than the coronavirus.
Is going to school a risk?
How much of a risk is opening schools during the pandemic? Experience from a number of countries is starting to shed some light. For the children themselves, Covid-19 is not a big threat. They usually have mild symptoms or none at all. Among children with symptoms, only 0.1 per cent of those younger than 10 and 0.3 per cent of those aged between 10 and 19 end up in the hospital, a study from Britain shows.