SCHOOLS will only reopen when they are safe, said Matt Hancock tonight – but he has not ruled out a fine for parents who refuse to send their children after the lockout ends.
The health secretary said the disease did not give children bad symptoms like it did for adults.
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But he dodged a direct question of whether that would mean that the parents would be fined for keeping them at home.
Andrew from Leeds asked him at the start of the # 10 coronavirus press conference: “When the lockdowns are lifted, will there be fines if parents stop children from going to school?
“And how are you going to make sure the public is sure they are safe?” “
Hancock reassured Andrew that schools will only be allowed to reopen when it is “safe” to do so.
But he did not directly address the question of whether the parents concerned could be fined for keeping their children at home because of fears of coronavirus.
He said, “We will only do it when it is safe. We are not going to reopen schools if it is not safe.
“When we reopen the schools, our goal will be to return to the norm and the position it once held.
“I am convinced that because we will only do this when it is safe, it will then be reasonable and normal to send children to school.
“The reason we had to make the decision to close the schools was the impact on the transmission, not the safety of the children. “
It comes after today a new poll has shown that 48 percent of people would feel uneasy about sending their children back even after the measures were changed.
The Sun revealed this week that ministers want to try to send children to school in certain locations before the end of the summer term in July.
Steve Powis of NHS England has tried to reassure the public that for children there is usually only a very mild illness, and experts are studying science carefully.
He added, “We have to be careful when we plan to open schools.
“The bottom line is that it is not a serious illness for the vast majority of children and young people. “
The news came when Mr. Hancock revealed that he had smashed his target of 100,000 tests a day, with more than 120,000 in the past 24 hours.
But he admitted that 27,000 of these kits had been released and that the results may not have been returned yet.
Reopening schools poses a “significant risk” from a second wave of coronavirus, a study warned today.
American and Chinese research has warned that children are also susceptible to the virus, as ministers said the students will be “reintegrated” into the classroom when schools return.
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said yesterday that no date has been set for schools to return to normal.
But he hinted that some year-old groups – like foster children – might be the first to go back to school.
We will only do this when it is safe. We are not going to reopen schools if it is not safe
Simon Clarke, professor of cell microbiology at the University of Reading, said the recent study showed that schools can spread the virus despite the fact that children are less affected by the virus.
He told The Times: “As children are carriers, reopening schools could expose parents, grandparents and teachers to the infection and, in turn, anyone they come into contact with, risking a second wave. “
The study, published in The Lancet, analyzed 1,286 close contacts of 391 people in Shenzhen, China.
He found that the same proportion of children caught the virus as adults and older children, despite the absence of symptoms.
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The researchers said “children could be an important target for interventions to reduce transmission, even if they don’t get sick.”
Schools have been closed nationwide since March 18 – three days before the full lockout was revealed by Boris Johnson.
Professor Chris Whitty said yesterday that there is still work to be done to find out how children can spread the virus.
He suggested that schools will not reopen until they know more.
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