“We should not consider re-opening schools yet” – BMA comes out in support of teachers

The BMA has written to the NEU, backing the union’s stance against the early re-opening of schools.

The British Medical Association, which represents doctors and medical students in the UK, wrote to the NEU’s joint general secretary Kevin Courtney, saying: “We have noted the launch of your campaign, and the publication of your five tests, and we stand in full support of you.

“The BMA’s Public Health Committee (PHMC) has considered the evidence available on the re-opening of schools and has found it to be thus far conflicting, which is perhaps unsurprising given the relatively small amount of research available and the unchartered territory we find ourselves in. A paper from New South Wales found very little transmission associated with schools and suggested that children were much less susceptible to serious illness but were more likely to have asymptomatic infection. Conversely, a more recent paper from Berlin, looking at viral loads in children suggest they are just as likely to be infected as adults, and may be just as infectious.

“We, therefore, need to know more about the infectivity of children, in light of these studies, however, the view of the members of the PHMC is completely aligned with the NEU that, until we have got case numbers much lower, we should not consider opening schools.

“The NEU is absolutely right to urge caution, to prioritise testing and to protect the vulnerable. We cannot risk a second spike or take actions which would increase the spread of the virus, particularly as we see sustained rates of infection across the UK. In response to the government’s announcement this week on easing lockdown restrictions, I said that I believed their plan was too fast, too confusing and too risky. They would do well to heed your five tests before taking any further premature action.

“Yours sincerely, Chaand Nagpaul CBE, BMA Council chair.”

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