King Edward VI Grammar School
Edward Street, Louth LN11 9LL
T: 01507 600456
As an academic institution we foster and encourage curiosity and enquiring minds. The Science behind the coronavirus and COVID-19 presents fantastic opportunities for everyone in our community to engage with the debate and to review the ever growing research that is happening every single day. It is fascinating to see, in a very public way, the science happening in front of our eyes.
As part of our planning at King Edward's we have been monitoring the science very carefully and we have followed the research, advice and guidance from four key groups:
i) World Health Organisation - for the global scope of its research.
ii) Independent SAGE - completely independent of the government and its policy making makes it free of any political bias.
iii) SAGE - the government's scientific advisory group
iv) 'Don't forget the bubbles' - a group of Emergency Paediatric Consultants who have focused on the impact of C-19 on children.
All of the above groups are moving towards a consensus about the impact of C-19 on children based on over 200+ pieces of research from around the world about the impact of C-19 on children. Follow the links above to read and compare their research, however, for the impatient the emerging consensus focuses on the following points:
1. Children are more likely to be asymptomatic than adults - i.e. they carry C-19 but don't show many or any symptoms of the virus.
2. The younger the child the fewer the symptoms, so primary aged children are unlikely to show symptoms of the virus and get it.
3. The older the child the more symptoms they are likely to have and they are more likely to acquire it compared to primary children.
4. Serious illness, hospitalisation or death is exceptionally rare in children; car accidents present a higher statistical risk to children than C-19.
5. Children are likely to pass on C-19 at around the same rate as adults i.e. they are no more or no less infectious to other people.
The scientific community agrees that schools need to return because the risk of C-19 in children is low and the impact of a loss of education on children and their future life chances - jobs; income; university education; social contact - is high.
Schools need to return safely to protect the wider adult community who are the most likely to be seriously affected by C-19 due to their age and any pre-existing conditions that they may have. This adult community includes the staff in the school but of equal importance are the parents; grandparents and the adult relatives of every single individual: scientists have identified these as the 'at risk' group in schools not children.
C-19 Hub Theory - could schools act as transmission hubs to the adult population?
There is limited research in this area because schools around the world have been closed but https://dontforgetthebubbles.com/the-missing-link-children-and-transmission-of-sars-cov-2/ provides a useful summary of the evidence.
This summary includes research into a pre-lockdown outbreak in Northern France in secondary schools in Oise that indentified 40% of the community - adults and children - became infected at the same rate. https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.04.18.20071134v1
In line with other research the evidence showed that older children aged 15-17 were more likely to display symptoms than those below 14; who were largely asymptomatic. It is important to remember that this 'outbreak' was pre-lockdown and researchers looked at evidence covering Feb-March. At the time there was no social distancing in place; no protective or hygiene measures and the school was running as normal with full classes. At the time the school's region - Haut de France - had 1475 cases up to 25th March [https://www.statista.com/statistics/1101388/coronavirus-france-confirmed-cases/]
Independent SAGE in their reports into schools have observed that:
'Ongoing UK data suggest that children are in fact as likely as adults to become infected and carry the virus. They may be less likely than adults to transmit the virus because, for instance, adults are contagious for longer than children. However, the impact of placing many children in one place could lead schools to become “institutional amplifiers” [C-19 Hubs], if asymptomatic children go unnoticed until an adult becomes symptomatic' [Independent SAGE report into reopening schools 22nd and 28th May 2020]
Their reports also note the upswing in cases in France, Denmark and South Korea following the re-opening of schools even with social distancing measures in place and the compulsory use of facemasks in secondary schools.
Reviews of the science of C-19, its impact on children and the limited evidence on C-19 in schools and on school re-opening has allowed us to reach the following conclusions which have informed our re-opening plans:
1. Adults in the community are the 'at risk' group and this includes staff; parents; grandparents and other adult relatives/older siblings: it is safe
for children to return to school.
2. Children - with or without symptoms - spread the virus to other children and adults at approximately the same rate.
3. Where children do have C-19 they are unlikely to have any symptoms: students in Y10, Y11, Y12 & Y13 are more likely to show symptoms.
4. Children are more likely to present with sore throat; vomiting and diarrhoea.
5. However, without rigorous measures there is a risk that schools could become'C-19 hubs' or 'institutional amplifiers' spreading C-19 to
adults which could lead to:
i) staff absences due to C-19 infection and parental infection in the wider adult community.
ii) long term staff absences owning to moderate or severe C-19 infection and similar impact on the wider adult community.
iii) severe illness, and hospitalisation in the staff and the wider adult community.
King Edward's should re-open in September in a cautious and phased manner with robust safety measures in place to reduce the spread of C-19 by 'asymptomatic' children to staff, parents, grandparents, older sibblings and others in our wider adult community and the negative impact this would have on families and on the school's ability to avoid an Autumn lockdown or multiple lockdowns.
Control measures should:
i) reduce the chances of contamination of surfaces or aerosol transmission to adults & children
ii) reduce the risk of cross contamination to adults and children from shared resources and teaching materials
iii) increase the chances of the school avoiding any closure/lockdown period during the Autumn Term.
iv) a phased 'exit' plan from the Emergency Curriculum arrangements should be kept under constant review to ensure that we follow the
science and return to normal as soon as possible.