The coronavirus pandemic has left schools contending with low attendance, staff shortages and rising infection rates in secondary school pupils, but the government is using emergency powers to threaten legal action against headteachers in England who want to allow their students to learn remotely in the run-up to the holidays.
Here’s what we know about the spread of coronavirus in children and its implications:
How much is Covid-19 spreading among school-age children?
The most recent estimates from the Office for National Statistics show that the prevalence of infection with Sars-CoV-2 – the virus that causes Covid-19 – is highest among secondary school-age children, which suggests they are a considerable source of community transmission, said Dr Stefan Flasche , an associate professor at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
Last week, the government said it would carry out mass testing in secondary schools and among college students in parts of north-east London, Essex and Kent in response to a worrying increase in cases.
The rise of the virus in school-age children is a concern because transmission inevitably amplifies into staff and the wider community, including vulnerable adults, noted Susan Michie, a professor of health psychology at University College London and member of the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage).