When will schools’ Covid data come in? Why next week is crucial to future lockdowns

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As students return to the classroom close attention will be paid as to how this could affect the spread of Covid in the UK. School children are among the most likely groups to be infected with the virus according to the latest data, which has raised concerns that the resumption of face to face learning could trigger a further increase in cases. So, when can we expect Covid data based on the return of schools to filter through?

When will Covid data from the return of schools arrive?

Any data which demonstrates the impact of schools returning on the UK’s Covid situation won’t come through for a couple of weeks.

Many students have yet to start their first day back due to a combination of Monday’s bank holiday and inset days.

Most students will resume face-to-face teaching by next Monday (December 10), from which point a more accurate picture can be drawn of whether Covid is spreading within school settings.

Tomorrow, Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to lead a cabinet review of the latest Covid data for the UK.

The meeting will also allow him to assess how his Plan B restrictions – which came into effect three weeks ago – are impacting the pandemic.

Currently, it appears likely Mr Johnson’s Plan B rules will remain as they are after the PM ruled out any changes on Tuesday, January 4.

On Tuesday, a new record was set for the number of daily cases of the virus to have been reported in the UK – 218,724 cases.

Should case numbers continue to grow, then early data from the return of schools could prove crucial as to whether the PM decides to tighten restrictions – including any future lockdowns.

In anticipation of schools re-opening, each nation within the UK has imposed measures to mitigate the spread of Covid.

Data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) shows school-age children have been among the most likely age groups to be infected with Covid.

In England, the following measures have been put in place:

  • Testing on return to school
  • Increased vaccination uptake
  • Improved classroom ventilation
  • Enhanced hygiene

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The Government has also announced it will be temporarily re-introducing the rule of mandatory face coverings while in classrooms, corridors and other communal areas indoors, for secondary school pupils.

Teachers, however, will be exempt from wearing face masks under the new guidelines.

The rule will remain in place until January 26, subject to a review – when Plan B rules are currently due to run out.

In addition, the Government has announced it will be making 7,000 air cleaning units available to early years settings, schools and colleges. Although, these units will not be delivered until next month.

Regardless of the measures, school staff unions have criticised the Government for being too slow to act and prevent case numbers rising in staff and students.

The Joint General Secretary of the National Education Union, Mary Bousted, has said that the order for 7,000 purifiers is “completely inadequate” for providing clean air.

She said: “The fact that the government have provided the extra purifiers shows that it recognises the problem but with over 300,000 classrooms in England they have failed to provide an effective solution.”

The latest Government figures identify there are more than 24,400 schools in England for the purifiers to be divided between.

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