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Relax isolation rules for young to save their education, experts urge

By Laura Parnaby, PA
·1-min read

Scientists have urged the Government to relax isolation rules for families with young children to prevent them missing “significant quantities of schooling” this winter.

Families and primary school “bubbles” should not have to isolate when a pupil displays signs of coronavirus because children frequently suffer with flu-like symptoms over winter, paediatricians writing an opinion report in the British Medical Journal argued.

Young children get between four and eight respiratory infections every winter, which could lead to the mass closure of primary schools if their contacts must isolate while waiting on test results each time, according to the Archives of Disease in Childhood report.

Under fives development report
The scientists said primary school children and their families should not have to isolate while awaiting test results (Dominic Lipsinki/PA)

The medics also warn the Government that a “blanket policy” for all ages limits parents’ ability to work and siblings’ freedom to attend school, adding primary-age pupils should not be subject to the same rules as those in secondary school because of their lower infection risk.

They said: “The blanket policy currently deployed for children of all ages is not evidence based and is too restrictive and inflexible, significantly disadvantaging primary school children and their families.

“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 report also recommends prioritising schools for rapid spit tests when these become available, and putting teachers ahead of children in the queue for a vaccine.