Chris Whitty 'very unhappy with Boris Johnson's reopening of schools' as PM vows to get kid backs to class on March 8February 25, 2021
PROFESSOR Chris Whitty is reportedly "very unhappy" with Boris Johnson’s plans for a "big bang" reopening of schools.
The Chief Medical Officer for England was said to be reluctant to personally get behind the policy this week — a claim a Downing Street source said was "categorically untrue".
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The PM is desperate to get children back into schools on March 8 after months of lost education caused by the pandemic, stressing earlier this week that it was his "number one priority".
Yet an education source told the Guardian Professor Whitty was "very unhappy" with plans for all 10 million kids and staff to return to schools in England on March 8.
They told the newspaper they believed this could be resolved, adding: "No 10 will come up with a formulation of words that Whitty can live with."
But a Department for Education source branded the claim "absolute bulls***" while a Government source also said it was "categorically untrue", reports the Mail Online.
A Government spokesman said: "We know schools, parents and pupils need clarity on plans as soon as possible, which is why we have committed to providing two weeks’ notice for them to prepare.
"Pupils will return from 8 March at the earliest."
This is categorically untrue
On Monday the Prime Minister is to reveal his roadmap for lifting national lockdown rules in place since the beginning of the year, with an across-the-board return to the classroom.
However, a coalition of education unions today demanded a "phased return" to classrooms — despite a dramatic fall in coronavirus infections.
A joint statement said: "It could trigger another spike in Covid infections, prolong the disruption of education and risk throwing away the hard-won progress made in suppressing the virus over the course of the latest lockdown.
"What we do know is that the full reopening of schools will bring nearly 10 million pupils and staff into circulation in England – close to one fifth of the population.
"This is not a small easing of lockdown restrictions. It is a massive step."
The statement comes despite a number of health experts and epidemiologists backing the reopening of schools on March 8.
A report from the Legatum Institute thinktank released today found that getting all kids back into the classroom will only have a minor effect on the R rate.
The think tank says getting all kids back on March 8 will only see 789 admissions to hospital.
This is based on Sage scientist estimates the R rate will increase by 0.2 to 0.5 when classrooms reopen.
And earlier this week, Professor Neil Ferguson said he expected all schools on March 8 as cases are "halving" every two weeks.
The Imperial College scientist, who is in favour of easing lockdown cautiously, said the dramatic fall in infections meant the government had "a bit of leeway" to send children back to classrooms.
Meanwhile, schools in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales are taking a phased approach to getting kids back to school.
Covid deaths today rose by 533 — which a 30 per cent drop on the figure recorded this time last week.
Another 12,027 infections were recorded in the last 24 hours, meaning 4,095,269 people have now tested positive for the bug in Britain since the start of the pandemic.
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