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COVID-19: Labour demand government publish SAGE advice on schools returning | Politics News

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Labour are demanding the government publish scientific evidence to support the return of schools and colleges, as ministers come under further pressure to delay the return of pupils to classrooms.

Under current government plans, primary schools and Year 11 and Year 13 students in secondary schools will return from their Christmas holidays next week.

Other children will go back a week later, as part of a staggered schedule.

However, teaching unions are among those calling for the return of schools and colleges to be delayed, as the UK deals with record numbers of coronavirus infections and COVID patients in hospitals.

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‘We havent seen the latest evidence’

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson was seen in Downing Street on Monday, with the government confirming that plans for pupils to return in January are “under constant review”.

Labour’s shadow education secretary Kate Green and shadow schools minister Wes Streeting have now written to Mr Williamson to demand the government publish advice from the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) on the return of schools in January.

On Monday, the Politico website reported SAGE – led by the government’s chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance – had urged ministers to keep secondary schools closed next month in a bid to dampen the rise in infections.

It comes after a recent paper on the new COVID variant by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine warned that even action similar to November’s second national lockdown across England – in which schools remained open – is “unlikely” to reduce the rate of infection to below one “unless primary schools, secondary schools, and universities are also closed”.

Ms Green said: “The government cannot continue to hide from reality and must urgently publish the scientific advice on the return of schools.

“Parents, pupils and staff are incredibly concerned about what will happen next week, with the prime minister governing through media leaks rather than evidence and clarity.

“The government has lost control of the virus and children’s education is suffering as a result.

“It’s time for the prime minister to own his mistakes and be honest about whether students can return to schools and colleges in a week’s time.”

Discussions on coronavirus among senior cabinet ministers were expected to continue on Tuesday, ahead of a review of England’s tiered restrictions due on Wednesday.

A member of the government’s New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (NERVTAG), which has been analysing the new COVID variant that has taken hold in England, warned the country was “entering a very dangerous new phase of the pandemic”.

There is evidence the new variant is more infectious than the original coronavirus strain.

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Schools to return, exams to go ahead, says govt

Andrew Hayward, professor of infectious diseases epidemiology at University College London, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “We’re going to need decisive, early national action to prevent a catastrophe in January and February.

“A 50% increase in transmissibility means that the previous levels of restrictions that worked before won’t work now, and so Tier 4 restrictions are likely to be necessary or even higher than that.

“I think we’re really looking at a situation where we’re moving into near lockdown, but we’ve got to learn the lessons from the first lockdown.”

Prof Hayward suggested that allowing pupils to return to schools would mean stricter restrictions in other areas of society.

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), proposed the number of pupils in schools could be restricted while testing systems – which the government has pledged military support for – are put in place.


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Samuel Ridwan popularly known us BobzaR is a Web & App developer & a Social Media Influencer and a student in the University of Energy and Natural Resources, He love's to design, travel, outing, netflix addicted, social media adicted and etc.
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