Schools not a major transmission site of COVID-19 - decision on school reopening this week

Schools are not a major source of transmission of coronavirus, the Public Health Agency (PHA) have said.

It has emerged the comments were made in a PHA presentation to education officials and some school principals last week, the BBS are reporting.

The report further said that school transmission “does occur but tends to be small scale”.

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Later this week the Northern Ireland Executive will decide if some or all pupils can return to school on Match 8.

A classroom

Yesterday, Dr Tom Black, the chair of the British Medical Association (BMA) in Northern Ireland, said he was hopeful primary schools could reopen on March 8.

But he said it would be a “big ask” to reopen post-primary schools on that date.

The Stormont executive has agreed that schools in Northern Ireland will remain closed until 8 March at the earliest.

Last week a teaching union said a full return to school “may not be possible for some time”.

Speaking yesterday on BBC News NI’s Sunday Politics programme, Dr Black said the reopening of primary schools was more likely because “we know the transmission infection in younger children is much lower”.

He said: “The chief medical officer and the Department of Health will look carefully at data and look at the R number - which is 0.8 at the moment.

“Opening schools has an increase of between 0.3 and 0.6 in the R number, so we couldn’t do that at the moment.

“Maybe in March, primary schools to open and see what effect it has.

“We really want the schools open before anything else, but secondary schools might be a reach at the moment.”


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