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Children: Coronavirus

Question for Department for Education

UIN 133236, tabled on 30 December 2020

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to the new strain of covid-19, whether his Department has made an assessment into the transmissibility of the virus on school-aged children; and what effect the new strain of the virus will have on the return of schools in 2021.

Answered on

12 January 2021

From Wednesday 6 January, a new national lockdown came into effect and schools should already be following the new rules. Schools should only allow vulnerable children and the children of critical workers to attend face-to-face education. All other pupils are being taught remotely.

The Department knows that receiving face-to-face education is best for children’s mental health and for their educational achievement, and we will keep the restrictions on schools under review. Limiting attendance at this time is about reducing the number of contacts that people have with other households given the rapidly rising numbers of cases across the country and the intense pressure on the NHS.

Our get help with remote education portal provides information, guidance, and support on educating pupils and students remotely during the COVID-19 outbreak. The portal can be accessed here: https://get-help-with-remote-education.education.gov.uk.

Although the recently identified variant of COVID-19 appears to be more transmissible in general, there is currently no firm evidence that it disproportionately affects children and young people, nor is there evidence that the new strain causes more serious illness in either children or adults.

For those pupils and staff still attending school, the system of protective measures that we have asked schools to implement continues to mean that any risks and well managed and controlled.