FEARS have been raised that millions of unvaccinated pupils returning to school will lead to a new Covid surge.
The Government has been warned to plan for such an eventuality and a rise in Covid cases in Scotland has already been attributed partly to schools returning this month.
Pupils began returning to school in Leicestershire this week, with most pupils in England, Wales and Northern Ireland set to head back to class over the next fortnight.
More than 7.3million Covid tests are to be carried out on children in the coming days.
Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the National Education Union said current safety requirements are "not sufficient" to prevent a rise in cases.
"Next to nothing has been done to prepare for the possibility of large numbers of cases which will lead to lots of education disruption as children and staff have to isolate because they are positive – or stay off because their Covid symptoms go on longer,” he said.
He said a return to normal when the new school year starts is out of the question as a large number of unvaccinated pupils will be coming together.
Mr Courtney called for Education Secretary Gavin Williamson to back face coverings from the beginning of term.
"To prevent a sharp rise in cases, the watchwords must be ventilation, air filtration, masks, vaccines and vigilance," he said.
"Gavin Williamson needs to support schools to consider face coverings from day one of term, alongside social distancing where possible, and special consideration for vulnerable staff.
"The danger is not that schools and colleges will be slow to act, but that Government is."
Mr Williamson himself said parents must take responsibility for their stopping their kids getting “carried away”.
“At long last, we will see children once more free to chase a football around, sing in a choir or just hang out with friends,” he writes in the Daily Mail.
“It is important not to get too carried away with these new freedoms and throw caution to the wind.”
In a newly published document from the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling, Operational sub-group (SPI-M-O), experts said the vaccine rollout will have made "almost no difference" to many pupils.
Currently only 12 to 15-year-olds who are most at risk from Covid or who live with people at-risk are eligible to be jabbed.
"It is highly likely that high prevalence will be seen within schools by the end of September 2021,” says 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."
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