Frightening pace of school outbreaks makes a mockery of last week’s government claim that ‘schools are safe’
The pace of the increase in the number of schools hit by coronavirus outbreaks is frightening, accelerating – and entirely predictable.
By this morning, compiled from official reports, local news and other sources, 140 schools were known to be affected. An hour or so later, that was 158. A couple of hours after that, 183.
By mid-afternoon, that number had risen to 201 – and in just the short time it took for SKWAWKBOX to compile and publish that update, the number had risen again, to 211.
A couple of hours later, it was 241 – and it is expected to rise again before the end of the day.
The schools affected included the one visited by Boris Johnson for a PR stunt, where Johnson spoke in close proximity to children packed into a classroom. A school in Health Secretary Matt Hancock’s constituency has become the first to host a confirmed ‘on-site cluster’ of infections.
The news is unsurprising because scientific experts and unions have been warning for months what the consequences of re-opening schools would be while the incidence of the virus in the community was high.
It is frightening because the risks to children are increasing, because children and teachers can pass it to vulnerable family members and because the acceleration is such that it is almost impossible to publish a figure before it is obsolete.
It is frightening because the number of cases has, for the second day in a row, hit levels not seen for 129 days – and Mondays are normally low-number days because of less monitoring over the weekend. The pool of infection in the UK is far higher than it was when scientists warned the government it was not low enough to push ahead with the return to schools, workplaces and hospitality venues.
And especially because studies have already shown – and the government was warned – that schools can easily become centres and drivers of a new wave of the pandemic. But the government knows this – and has told health experts there will be no further substantive measures to try to curtail its spread.
Update: the numbers in the headline of this article originally ended at 241. It rose to 250 while this article was being written.
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