School closures have little impact on spread of coronavirus – study
UCL say small benefits should be weighed against profound economic and social costs
The research, led by University College London (UCL), is the first to look at evidence behind many governments’ decision to shut schools and keep pupils at home.According to the UN’s education body, Unesco, more than 90% of the world’s pupils have been affected by closures.
The UCL-led study concludes that the evidence to support the closure of schools to combat Covid-19 is “very weak”, and statistics from influenza outbreaks suggest school closures “could have relatively small effects on a virus with Covid-19’s high transmissibility and apparent low clinical effect on schoolchildren”.
The research team reviewed 16 studies of recent outbreaks of other coronaviruses, including the 2003 Sars epidemic in mainland China, Hong Kong and Singapore, and found that school closures did not help control the epidemic.“We know from previous studies that school closures are likely to have the greatest effect if the virus has low transmissibility and attack rates are higher in children. This is the opposite of Covid-19,” said the study’s lead author, Prof Russell Viner, of UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health.
“Data on the benefit of school closures in the Covid-19 outbreak is limited but what we know shows that their impact is likely to be only small compared with other infection-control measures such as case isolation and is only effective when other social isolating measures are adhered to.”
Viner, who is president of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said the benefit gained from closing schools had to be weighed against the costs. “Children’s education is damaged and their mental health may suffer, family finances are affected, key workers may need to stay home to look after children and vulnerable children may suffer most.”
He also highlighted the need to start working out how to return students to education and keep them in school safely.“Countries that have closed schools, such as the UK, have to now ask hard questions about when and how to open schools. Interventions in schools, such as closing playgrounds, keeping students in constant class groups/classrooms, increasing spacing between students in classes, reducing the school week and staggering school start and break times across years or classes should be considered if restrictive social distancing policies are to be implemented for long periods of time.”
Prof Neil Ferguson, of Imperial College London, who is one of the key epidemiologists advising the government, said: “While school closure as a measure on its own is predicted to have a limited effectiveness in controlling Covid-19 transmission, when combined with intense social distancing it plays an important role in severing remaining contacts between households and thus ensuring transmission declines.”
Robert Dingwall, a professor of sociology at Nottingham Trent University, said the UCL study suggested the public health benefits of school closures were not proportionate to the social and economic costs imposed on children and their families.“It also underlines how the assumptions used in modelling the Covid-19 pandemic may rest on very flimsy foundations in terms of scientific evidence. This work suggests that UK schools could and should begin to reopen as soon as practicable after the initial wave of cases has passed through.”
The study team included researchers from UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health, UCL Institute of Education, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, University of Cambridge and University of Sydney. The study is published in the Lancet Child and Adolescent Health journal.
A government spokesperson said: “The decision to close schools was taken in line with scientific advice on how to limit the spread of the coronavirus. We asked most children to stay at home in order to protect the NHS and save lives.“Schools will remain closed until further notice, except for children of critical workers and the children who are most vulnerable. We will reopen schools when the scientific advice indicates it is safe to do so.”
Prof Viner UCL should send own children school. You make dangerous assumptions. US surgeon general talks about disproportionate impact CV on the vulnerable/people of colour. Even the young/fit can die. You still want the vulnerable 2 go to school? ProfSarahCowley cyclingkev Ate you becoming like the daily mail publishing whatever it comes to hand?
Look at Marist College in Auckland then. Biggest cluster in NZ. This is a very irresponsible headline; it actually means very little impact if no other social distancing measures are followed. This is pretty a disappointing attempt at an article. The hysteria on here illustrates we are now in Bodysnatchers territory. They only listen to experts who enforce their madness
This is a deeply misleading and unhelpful headline. The research said that school closures alone only made a small difference. Opening schools in the context of a lockdown would have a massive detrimental impact. TheLancet Your headline is factually incorrect & is contradicted by the article itself. 1 Article admits they have limited data to base their claim. 2 Article says closures are effective as part of a wider social distancing measures. Is this what you call holding govt to account? Shameful
People here said China lied. But schools are still closed in China. No one in China believe this study. Parents here refuse to pay full fees make independent school panic. They care more about their business. The Government were forced to close schools and colleges not because students were spreaders but because vulnerable employees and employees with symptoms were self isolating. Schools couldn't provide proper education. However by working from home students have recieved the work
How about using common sense ? Try it. It might hurt at the beginning but you should try it anyway. What about children who live in multigenerational households? What about students who take public transport to school? What about the teachers/ parents with underlying health conditions? Makes no sense - it saids keep school open but playground closed and social distancing in classroom - how can that be possibleAlthough I agree with all the disadvantages of school closure but this can be countered by other method other that bringing all children back to school.
Publishing trash about coronavirus! “Data on the benefit of school closures in the Covid-19 outbreak is limited but what we know shows that their impact is likely to be only small' until it is your child in COVID19 ICU. TheLancet Lancet what a disappointment... Pure nonsense. How does that work? Stay home, but then send children to school. What nonsense. It is an accepted fact that children spread the virus. This article seems to be looking mostly at the economic side of the situation.
Children in general may be low risk, schools are staffed by people who have families at home, who may NOT be low risk. I have someone vulnerable at home. She would not be placed at the front of the queue, should she need a ventilator. None of our family of 5 is in school, 🙏🏼God Stop publishing so much sh*t about coronavirus! “Data on the benefit of school closures in the Covid-19 outbreak is limited but what we know shows that their impact is likely to be only small' until it is your child in COVID19 ICU.
TheLancet Guardian! Staying at home, social distancing vastly reduces a families risk of infection. Sending your offspring to school opens a window to infect the entire family. On a global basis school attendance may have a small affect - but on a personal basis! April fool! Is this a five year study then
Whatever else, its good to see an acknowledgent that lengthy school closures come with serious costs which will be disproportionately born by vulnerable kids & families. We are getting trolled right here. Trolled I tell you. TheLancet BS! another studt saying the economy is more important than your lives
‘Increasing spacing between students in the classroom’? I can only think this would work at schools like Hogwarts. AND A school staffed by under 40 years old will have minimum risk of virus exposure and the threat level is below the average child mortality rate. The words “may” & “relatively” should be in this hed. The review focused on closures’ relative impact compared to other social-D methods. It found that closures (supported by modeling) were not supported by influenza outbreak studies, & that overall data was scarce & equivocal.
TheLancet Interesting. Riddle me this .... Modelling by Chang et al from the University of Sydney notes school closure (SC) alone is unremarkable without 80% compliance with social distancing (SD). A Level 4 alert level response by New Zealand tries to achieve 80% SD and SC is in place. Unreliable unfortunately.
How can u have social distancing & keep schools open. Half way isnt enough. Obvoiusly the longer it goes the more need to open school esp bc of disadvantaged your]th and those that need the break from abuse. But to say that it does nothing esp if one can be asymptomatic is nutty. Are these people stupid? And what kind of study?
I could have told you that. Send the little punks back to school. Jailed with kids is a god-damned nightmare. Shame on you Ms. Weale, this is weak and irresponsible reporting. It has me wanting to cancel my subscription. I could have told you that. Send the little links back to school. Jailed with kids is a god-damned nightmare.
TheLancet Really? Close em anyway..the more people at home the sooner we can beat this thing Marist. College. New. Zealand. That’s it. That’s the tweet. Did the coronavirus write this? TheLancet This is clearly nonsense drummed up by economists and the wealthy who fund this sort of junk science. That’s a bull$!t study.
Quote: “We know from previous studies that school closures are likely to have the greatest effect if the virus has low transmissibility and attack rates are higher in children. But its saving children, isn't it? Such an irresponsible and factually incorrect headline. Please remove. Losing respect for your journalism. This study states that school closures are effective in combination with other social distancing measures. You have taken it out of context. Therefore your headline is wrong and the article irrelevant.
The important point missed in this article is that children don’t attend school on their own. There are hundreds of adults there too- teachers, TAs, admin staff, facilities staff. Also hundreds of parents drop off/pick up. So can we consider the serious risk to these adults? 'Covid-19’s high transmissibility and apparent low clinical effect on schoolchildren'—But that's just the point. School closures were not so much to protect children, but there was that concern. It was to keep children from getting the virus and then spreading it.
TheLancet This is not flu. I’d invite the authors to NYC NOW to do a three month study with 1.1M school kids back in classes (thankfully they’re not) with teachers, admins, school aids, custodians, kitchen staff, plus parents & guardians as they fight, chase, cough, sneeze—and then tell me about “impact”
What is wrong with you UCL? Appaling biased results probably based on conflict of interests My teacher neighbours are having a whale of a time - 2 days work a week! What a heap of shite. If they could go to school then why is everyone being told to stay home. Are 4-11 yr olds going there and back on their own? What about the 100s of carers waiting to pick them up after school travelling on buses to and from school? Did they look at that? 🤦♂️
School buildings emit a special and mysterious anti-viral substance protecting all, kids and teachers, within. This is a well known fact. Why should this apply to schools and not to workplaces, public transport, restaurants, etc? Nonsense. Also the article says that schools closure is not as effective as other measures such as isolation... Well, explain how could you do the second without the first?
It hasn't been long enough to have an impact. And it's not just about the children, it's about staffing, and contact among adults at drop-off/pick-up, etc. And kids who pick it up from other kids and then bring it home to parents/grandparents ... Halls and cafeterias filled with children and adults, confined in tight spaces, are not fluid with virus spreading? Are you serious? Carriers of the virus, then spread across homes, families, located across the region, to other jobs and locales? WTF?
TheLancet Keep digging Trust me. It does. NHS But surely a main issue is lack of staff with so many self isolating or shielding? TheLancet This isn’t the freaking flu or even SARS! PrinceHarry and Megan to be stripped of their 'Du... Seriously?
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