UK news Sending pupils back to school together 'could lead to worst Covid wave yet', warns McBride last news
MetiNews.Com - Northern Ireland could be hit by the worst Covid-19 wave yet if all pupils return to school at once, it has been warned.
Breaking News ! "Northern Ireland could be hit by the worst Covid-19 wave yet if all pupils return to school at once, it has been warned. The chief medical officer (CMO) has said he cannot rule out the possibility of another lockdown, including further school closures, if measures currently in place are lifted too quickly.Dr Michael McBride was speaking after the Education Minister questioned the advice the Executive received from medical experts over the reopening of schools.Peter Weir has said there is a "strong case" for all pupils to go back to class on March 8, while stating he believes health officials at Stormont had been "over-cautious" in recommending a phased return.However, speaking yesterday afternoon, Dr McBride said: "There is a significant risk at this point in time, if we move back from the current restrictions too quickly or too rapidly, that we will see a resurgence in cases and that could result in a further wave of infection that could be even greater than the numbers we saw back in January. "That's why it's very important that the decision by the Executive, in terms of returning to a degree of normality are carefully taken, informed by all of the evidence and one step at a time. And that one step at a time will allow us to assess the impact on transmission and the R number and then will inform the Executive's decision as to whether it is safe to move into the next step."Therefore, it is important that in the return to school that that is phased and planned in a way, a step wise process, so that each phase we can estimate the impact to ensure we can keep community transmission down, the R number down, before we then open up the next phase of return to school."That way, we will get schools back in a sustainable way. I think the worst thing would be that we have children all back in school potentially and see a very significant rise in community transmission and that puts the whole thing back again. We all want children back in school, children need to be back in school and my advice is we just do that cautiously and carefully, but ultimately those are decisions for the Education Minister and for the Executive."Dr Tom Black, from the British Medical Association, said: "We have to follow the science, which is being watched very closely by the Department of Health and the CMO. The R rate is still quite high and lifting restrictions too quickly could result in it going over one.
.First Minister Arlene Foster wants to put the dates - which would see those in pre-school and primary one to three pupils returning on March 8 - back on the agenda ahead of the Executive's review of lockdown restrictions."On Thursday the Executive made a decision based on advice from the Health Minister and the CMO," said NASUWT national official Justin McCamphill."It is irresponsible for the First Minister to publicly undermine the Executive's heath advisers in this way. A plan was put in place last Thursday that can provide a basis for a safe return to school, ditching this plan simply to match the position in England would be a mistake. While there isn't a consensus in the profession in relation to the current plan, the focus now has to be on making that plan operable and as safe as possible."Teachers have many questions around workload and safe working practices which must be answered in the coming days, but only a staged approach will allow for proper monitoring of the impact of reopening. We cannot repeat the mistakes that were made before, our children and young people deserve better than a boom-and-bust approach to Covid."Dr Graham Gault, president of the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT), said that school leaders remain very eager to see all children and young people back at school. "If the comments by the First Minister are more than just political gesturing, we require the medical evidence to demonstrate that it will be safe, details on how school leaders will be supported, particularly with regards to their workload," he said."Then we need details on what further workable safety measures will be put in place, details of the prioritisation for all front-line education staff for vaccination and a clear explanation of what serious restrictions are going to be imposed on wider society to enable our schools to be opened for all children in a sustainable way."Our young people do not need to come back to on-site learning, just to be sent off again, and they do not need to come back just to return to the endless cycle of isolations that they endured prior to Christmas.""
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