Government says parents responsible for preventing new Covid wave when schools reopen

Parents have a responsibility to help prevent a fourth wave of Covid-19 when schools reopen next week, Gavin Williamson has said.

The Education Secretary said schools might have to close again if parents did not regularly test their children for coronavirus.

In the previous school year from March pupils were tested en masse with at-home testing kits and told to self-isolate if they tested positive.

Schools were closed early in the year due to the winter wave of coronavirus but reopened as cases subsidied.

There some evidence that school closures has damaged attainment, particularly among disadvantaged pupils.

“School communities still need to follow Covid precautions, especially regular testing for pupils, families and staff. But it is not just a matter for schools,” Mr Williamson said in an article for the Daily Mail newspaper.

“Parents too have a responsibility to make sure that their children are tested regularly.

“I know that there are many things people would rather be doing than testing but it’s really important to make time for it.

“The last thing we want is for schools to partially close again, or for whole classes of pupils to be at home self-isolating. That should only ever be the last resort.”

Cases are rising steadily in all four nations of the UK with fears mounting of a possible winter wave.

Another tranche of vaccinations for children 12 to 15 is expected to begin around 6 September, though this is yet to be confirmed. Jabs for over-12s could start from “early September”.

But the Joint committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) which will advise the government on whether to go ahead is still assessing the benefits for the jab for children.

With schools returning over the next week children will be mixing in classrooms and playgrounds against well before a significant portion of vaccinated.

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