RCPCH comments on Government's guidance for reopening of schools

The Government today released guidance for the full reopening of schools in England. Professor Russell Viner, President of the RCPCH, comments.

Professor Russell Viner says:

This guidance is timely and we hope it will help schools, teachers and parents to plan for the extremely important goal of getting children back to school. In total, over 2,500 of our members signed an open letter to the Prime Minister because of their concerns about the risk to children’s health and wellbeing if they are not in school.

Children are around half as susceptible to COVID-19 as adults and very rarely get symptoms and almost never get severely ill. The evidence from many countries around the world is that transmission in schools is very low. Most children catch COVID-19 from adults in their household. Individual children can pass the virus on and we will inevitably see occasional outbreaks in schools, especially if there is a rise in infection rates in the general population.

Reactive school closures have a place in stamping out local spikes in this pandemic, but this must be evidence-based. The risks to children of keeping schools closed are high, and schools should be reopened again as soon as possible.

We would like to see more detail on how the NHS Test and Trace system works with schools. If we have a second wave, close liaison with Test and Trace will be key.