KIDS are set to be hit by a postcode lottery for schools reopening, the deputy chief medical officer has admitted.
Dr Jenny Harries said schools are set to stay shut in some parts of the country after lockdown 3 is lifted – as revealed in The Sun today.
Some schools may stay shut after lockdown is liftedCredit: Alamy
Dr Jenny Harries said there may need to be a regional approach when re-opening schoolsCredit: PA:Press Association
She refused to deny that schools will stay shut nationally until Easter – but warned there is likely to be “regional separation” when they do reopen.
And she sensationally admitted schools are not believed to drive Covid rates – but said they were left with no choice but to close them because “hospitals were becoming overwhelmed”.
But other senior medics grimly warned the school shutdown is hammering the health and wellbeing of kids.
Dr Harries warned that kids in Covid hotspots could be locked out of the classroom for months to come.
While London – which was hit by the second wave first but is now seeing rates come down – is on course to reopen schools first, she said.
She told the Education Select Committee: “I think it’s likely that we will have some sort of regional separation of interventions.”
She added: “It is highly likely that when we come out of this national lockdown we will not have consistent patterns of infection in our communities across the country.
“And therefore, as we had prior to the national lockdown, it may well be possible that we need to have some differential application.”
Medics do not think schools drive Covid infection rates, Dr Harries said.
Instead, outbreaks in classes are believed to come from high rates of transmission outside the school gates.
But ministers and mednics agreed to dramatically close all schools in an all-out bid to dampen down the virus because hospitals were being “overwhelmed”, she said.
But Dr Harries said schools will be at the top of the priority to ensure that the balance of education and wellbeing is “right at the forefront” of consideration.
Addressing the education select committee on the risk of transmission in schools, Dr Harries said: “Schoolchildren definitely can transmit infection in schools – they can transmit it in any environment – but it is not a significant driver as yet, as far as we can see, of large-scale community infections.”
Boris Johnson has said reopening schools is his “number one priority” when lockdown can be eased.
But teachers and education bosses reckon the schools shutdown will drag on until at least Easter.
Professor Russell Viner, head of the Royal College of Paediatrics, warned the school shutdown is having a devastating impact on kids’ lives.
Eating disorders and mental health problems are rocketing among school-aged kids, he warned.
He told MPs: “When we close schools we close their lives – not to benefit them but to benefit the rest of society.”
He added: “The most important thing we can do for our children is get schools reopened again.”