To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the percentage of children in Wirral eligible to attend school under current Government covid-19 guidance; and what assessment has he made of the risk to teachers and support staff of that number of children attending school.
13 January 2021
During this period of national lockdown, schools should allow only vulnerable children and young people and the children of critical workers to attend. All other pupils and students should not attend and should learn remotely until February half term.
Every school will have a different number of children of critical workers who need to attend. It is important that on site provision is provided for these pupils, and there is no limit to the numbers of these pupils who may attend. Schools should not limit attendance of these groups.
Limiting attendance does not suggest that schools and colleges have become less safe for young people. Instead, limiting attendance is about supporting the reduction of the overall number of social contacts in our communities. Overall social contact across areas and the country is being reduced, rather than individually by each institution.
The new variant appears to affect all ages, but we have not seen any changes in the severity of the disease among any age groups, including children and young people. Most children and young people have no symptoms or very mild illness only. As cases in the community rise, there will be an increase in the number of children with COVID-19, but only very rarely will they require admission to hospital.
Under the national lockdown, the expectation is that everyone should work from home where possible. School leaders are best placed to determine the workforce that is required in school, taking into account the updated guidance for those staff who are clinically extremely vulnerable. The expectation is that those staff not attending school will work from home where possible.
For vulnerable children and young people, the children of critical workers, and their teachers who should still attend school or college, as they did in March to July, the system of protective measures means that any risks are well managed and controlled.
The Department publishes national level data on pupil attendance weekly: https://explore-education-statistics.service.gov.uk/find-statistics/attendance-in-education-and-early-years-settings-during-the-coronavirus-covid-19-outbreak. Data relating to the current school term will be published on 19 January.