United Kingdom

Experts call on primary schools not to send children home when they have signs of a cold

Primary schools should stop sending children home and making them self-isolate when they have the sniffles, leading paediatricians argue.

They said the ‘risk-averse’ approach meant children will miss ‘significant quantities of schooling’ over winter.

Youngsters get between four and eight respiratory infections over winter with flu-like symptoms that could be confused for Covid, a University of Southampton-led study found. 

Currently any child with symptoms – as well as those they have been in contact with – has to self-isolate.

Primary schools should stop sending children home and making them self-isolate when they have the sniffles, leading paediatricians argue. Pupils are pictured at a Northampton primary school in September 

Writing in the British Medical Journal, the doctors said a ‘blanket policy’ for all ages limited parents’ ability to work and siblings’ freedom to attend school. 

They added: ‘The impact of missed schooling on children’s physical and mental health and educational development during the first wave of the pandemic far outweighed the benefits of shutting schools in a bid to curb the spread of the virus.’

The doctors said there should be no requirement for entire year groups to isolate after a single case at school.

UK Department of Education figures show that in the week of October 22, 600,000 secondary school pupils in England were forced to isolate at home for Covid-related reasons – nearly a fifth of all students. Only about 10,000 tested positive for Covid. 

Children’s Commissioner Anne Longfield has previously spoken of the ‘chaos’ in some schools.

She said: ‘Some are sending entire year groups home for a fortnight because a single pupil tests positive for Covid, something that is actually against government guidance and should stop.’

Children’s Commissioner Anne Longfield has previously spoken of the ‘chaos’ in some schools

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