Boris Johnson Says Classes Shouldn't Be Sent Home Unless A Pupil Or School Teacher Tests Positive For Coronavirus
The prime minister has warned teachers not to send whole year groups or classes home unless a student or staff member receives a positive coronavirus test.
Johnson made his intervention as he was grilled by MPs during his second ever appearance before the liaison committee over the government’s coronavirus response, testing capacity and Brexit.
The shortage of tests this week has meant chaos for schools at the start of the autumn term with teachers, parents and children struggling to get tested after displaying possible Covid-19 symptoms.
Johnson said demand for tests had soared, causing the backlog, but the government intended on reaching 500,000 tests a day by the end of October.
Science and technology select committee chair, Greg Clark, who also sits on the liaison committee, said there would be rolling system of school shut downs this autumn if whole classes were being sent home for two weeks as a result of someone having a cough in class.
Johnson said: “That would be wrong and that should not be happening because the reasons for sending such a class home, or a bubble home, would be if somebody tests positive.
“If somebody tests positive who has been in contact with their bubble, then the rest of the bubble has to self isolate.”
He urged teachers and parents to read the advice from Public Health England and NHS Track and Trace.
Clark asked again if pupils and teachers would be sent home before a test result had come through, to which Johnson clarified: “They should go in the event of a positive test.”
Johnson faced nearly two hours of questions in a downbeat session in which he predicted a gloomy outlook on testing, the financial impact of another lockdown and Covid-19 mortality rates.
He said at present the country does not have enough testing capacity, is someway off pregnancy style testing kits, and that the financial consequences of a second lockdown would be disastrous.
On the number of deaths that are likely, following on from the rise in cases, he said: “The incidence amongst the 80-plus group is now 12 per 100,000. Only a few days ago it was about half that. It is growing.
“And alas, although the number of cases… is obviously far smaller than it was in the Spring, we must expect those infections, proportionately, to lead to mortality.
“That is the reality.”
On Brexit, he accused the EU of not acting in good faith in efforts to strike a trade deal, particularly on the issue of food being sent from Great Britain to Northern Ireland in future and whether the EU would approve imports. This came just hours after Northern Ireland secretary Brandon Lewis said the opposite: that the EU was acting in good faith.
Johnson said: “Perhaps they will prove my suspicions wrong.”