SCHOOLS are safe to reopen and do not spread Covid, an NHS expert says.
That verdict comes after kids in classrooms were declared not to be the second wave’s “major driver” by Northern Ireland’s Public Health Association.
He said: “Increasingly, we think transmission reflects the local society and environment around the school.
“For secondary schools, we have to be sure the rate of transmission around that school is low enough, not because it’s unsafe for children but otherwise it’s going to look as if children are getting Covid more.
“The risk is people perceive schools as being places that cause transmission and I don’t think that’s true.”
His theory is backed by a study from the University of Warwick, which found school cases follow a rise in infections in the community, not the other way around.
Dr Mike Tildesley said: “We are not seeing that cases in schools then led to cases in the community… we are certainly not seeing overwhelming evidence that schools are driving risks in the community.”
Prof Sarah Lewis, Professor of Molecular Epidemiology, University of Bristol, said: “Cases in schools seemed to correlate most strongly with cases in the community 5-7 days earlier (which is the typical incubation period), suggesting that cases in the community were spilling into schools rather than vice versa.”
The study comes as Boris Johnson said no decisions have been made on whether all pupils in England can return to school at the same time.
The Prime Minister is preparing to set out his “road map” for relaxing measures on February 22, with March 8 earmarked for schools to start reopening to all pupils.
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