Kevin Courtney, NEU Deputy Secretary General, said: “Principals, teachers and school staff understand the educational impact of this, but we also understand that in exponential epidemics early action is essential.
“Acting now can prevent more disruption later. ”
Figures from the ONS from the start of the week suggest the highest infection rates are among high school students and young adults.
Mr Courtney added: “This should come as no surprise to the Prime Minister or the Department of Education.
“Scientists have constantly told them that high school students transmit the virus as much as adults do, and we warned them that because we have some of the largest classrooms in Europe, we have overcrowded classrooms and hallways without effective social distancing.
“Our classrooms often have poor ventilation, resulting in overhead transmissions, and in many areas we also have overcrowded school transportation where children mingle through the bubbles of year groups.
“These children live in families and are part of communities, so even though they themselves have few or no symptoms, they are still participating in the spread of the virus to others, including teachers and other members of the school. school staff. “
He said: “Such a circuit breaker could allow the government to take control of the testing, tracking and tracing system, and lowering the cases to allow the system to function better.”
The two or three week breaker has been proposed and supported by more than 674,000 scientific experts.
Independent experts from the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) say the three-tier system of government is “not enough to reverse growth.”
Instead, they say a six week contingency plan is needed to bring infection rates below 5,000 / day.
The group is proposing a 2-3 week lockdown, including the immediate closure of schools, non-essential shops and businesses, leisure and hospitality sectors and places of worship.
He also suggests that physical distancing measures should revert to the two-meter rule, with a ban on mixing households outside of the support bubbles.
After this “circuit breaker,” SAGE suggests there should be a period of continued restrictions to keep the R number below 1, while still allowing schools to reopen.
Professor Christina Pagel of University College London said: ‘We believe that a nationwide breaker sharpened for 2-3 weeks, followed by 3-4 weeks of continuous restrictions, is needed to stop the current wave, thus avoiding tens of thousands of new cases. and thousands of hospital stays.
“It will save us precious time to build a public health and social scaffolding to support the easing of restrictions and restart our lives. We must not waste this time. ”
Sir David King, president of SAGE, added that “urgent reform” of the Test & Trace system is needed, describing it as a “national scandal”.
The SAGE report states: “Eight months after the start of the pandemic, it is clear that England’s Research, Test, Trace, Isolation and Support (FTTIS) program is failing, leading the government to rely on a succession of restrictions on who mixes to control the pandemic.
“The result is that the UK has some of the highest death rates and economic damage in the world.”
Experts recognize that any new restriction will have to be accompanied by a package of financial support for the individuals and businesses concerned.
They added: “The government should make isolation financially feasible for all cases and contacts. This was only provided on September 28, since £ 500 was provided to insulate properly for 14 days, or £ 7.14 per hour, significantly below minimum wage and difficult to access.
“For five million workers in the odd-job economy, this is hardly an incentive. We recommend a minimum of £ 800. ”