Whitty: Teaching is not a high-risk profession

Chief medical officer tells MPs that – 'on balance of risk' – the government's view is that children should be in school
3rd November 2020, 5:52pm

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Whitty: Teaching is not a high-risk profession

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Coronavirus & Schools: Professor Chris Whitty Has Told Mps That Teaching Is Not A High-risk Profession

England's chief medical officer has told MPs that teaching is not a high-risk occupation for Covid-19 and that children should be in school.

Professor Chris Whitty was answering questions at a meeting of the Commons Science and Technology Committee today following Boris Johnson's announcement on Saturday that schools will not be included in a new national lockdown to tackle the spread of Covid-19.

When asked about the transmission of the coronavirus in schools, Prof Whitty said: "On balance of risk, our view is firmly for children to be in school."


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Prof Whitty added that all the data at this point in time suggests that teachers are not in a "high-risk occupation".

Coronavirus: Benefits of keeping schools open 'are really clear'

When questioned on what effect schools being left open will have on the growth rate of the virus, he added: "The transmission in primary school children is a relatively small contribution. It won't be zero but really pretty small.

"I think there's more debate around secondary school - particularly older secondary school children, say 17-, 18-, 19-year-olds.

"But, in a sense, then the societal question - given the huge benefits to children - what are we actually, what is the right balance for society?

"That's, in my view, fundamentally a political question, but the reality is, in our view, that the benefits to children are really clear."

He was speaking as the NEU teaching union stepped up its campaign to have schools included in the lockdown.

An online petition started by the union, which calls for an amendment to the lockdown bill set to go before Parliament tomorrow so that it includes the closure of schools to all but vulnerable children and those of key workers, has been signed by more than 150,000 teachers and school staff.

At a national briefing on Saturday, Mr Johnson said that schools in England will stay open during the new four-week lockdown.

He told the country: "Our priority, my priority, remains keeping people in education...our senior clinicians still advise that school is the best place for children to be."

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