Minimal immunity and dropping of preventive measures could lead to widespread school infections.
Ministers should be planning for a huge rise in Covid cases as schools return, the government’s scientific advisers have warned, as debate continues over whether all older children should be offered a Covid vaccine.
A document released on Friday revealed that scientists on the modelling group of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) have issued a fresh alarm about the impact of schools reopening in encouraging the spread of infections.
“It is highly likely that high prevalence will be seen within schools by the end of September 2021,” the group predicts in the document.
“This may reflect either community or within-school transmission, and the role of schools in driving wider transmission remains uncertain. Regardless of this, it would be sensible for government to plan for this eventuality.”
The education secretary, Gavin Williamson, brushed aside concerns, telling the Financial Times: “We don’t want to see the same level of disruption … My hope is that, combined with the mass testing we’re doing, children aren’t going to be in the situation of having to self-isolate.”
However, the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) said after the release of the document: “This is clearly a recipe for chaos, and the government cannot once again allow a situation to develop in which attendance unravels, and children experience yet more disruption.”