Coronavirus POLL: Should schools be closed to halt spread of virus as cases surge? VOTE

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The National Education Union (NEU) has claimed the circuit breaker – which would see most businesses close in a bid to curb the spread of the virus – would help the government “get in control of the test, track and trace system” and get cases lowered.

Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the NEU, said: “Heads, teachers and school staff understand the educational impact of this, but we also understand that in exponential epidemics early action is essential.

“Taking action now can avoid more disruption later.”

And now, Express.co.uk is asking whether schools should be closed again to stop the spread of the virus?

The calls for the half-term circuit breaker comes after data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed there was an estimated average of 27,900 new cases per day between October 2 and 8.

According to figures released on Friday, the highest COVID-19 infection rates across England continue to be among young adults and school students.

Mr Courtney added: “This should be no surprise to either the prime minister or the Department for Education – scientists have consistently told them that secondary students transmit the virus as much as adults.

“We have warned them that because we have amongst the biggest class sizes in Europe we have overcrowded classrooms and corridors without effective social distancing.

“Our classrooms often have poor ventilation leading to airborne transmissions, and in many areas we have also have overcrowded school transport where children are mixing across year group bubbles.

“These children live in families and are part of communities, so even if they have few or no symptoms themselves they are still party of spreading the virus to others, including to teachers and other school staff.”

The NEU have also called for the government to guarantee the expansion of free school meals for the more disadvantaged students if a circuit breaker is imposed.

Earlier this week, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer called for a circuit breaker lockdown in England and accused the government of having “lost control” of the pandemic.

Sir Keir said: “Three things are now clear.

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“The Government doesn’t have a credible plan to slow infections, it has lost control of the virus.

“It is no longer following scientific advice, the SAGE minutes from the 21st of September, published yesterday, underline this.

“They are clear and they warn that a packet of stringent interventions is now urgently needed.”

Sir Keir reiterated the importance of the Government reacting quickly to the evolving situation.

He said: “SAGE also make clear that not acting now will result in a very large epidemic with catastrophic consequences.

“Among SAGE’s recommendations is a circuit breaker, a short period of national restrictions that SAGE believes would bring the R-rate down.

“It would reset the incident of disease to a lower level and SAGE’s advice is that this could set the epidemic back by up to 28 days or even more.

“They are very clear the more rapidly these interventions are put into place, the greater reduction in COVID-19 related deaths and the quicker they can be eased.”

The UK has the highest infection rate across Europe after surpassing 600,000 with deaths reaching 43,429.

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