Schools open UK: Chris Whitty explains exactly why schools are remaining closed

Chief medical officer Chris Whitty said “we are getting closer” to having a “narrower range of uncertainty” about the impact that opening schools would have. The scientific advisers would present a range of options to ministers about easing lockdown measures and “difficult choices” would have to be made. He added they are trying to keep the R below one meaning each existing infection causes less than one new infection forcing COVID-19 to die out.

Speaking at Downing Street, Dr Whitty said: “The final decision will be with ministers, this is not a scientific decision but what we can contribute from the science side is we’ve got this room for manouvere.

“There’s a lot of what everyone is going to pulling that down.

“Schools are contributing some of that and it may be different from different bits of schools.

“What we are trying to do in very short order is trying to get a feel for what are the combinations of different things which keep the R below one which is an absolutely critical thing.

“But allow the opening up of different bits of society in which schools is one.”

He warned: “There is no perfect solution where we are going to end up being able to do all the things that people want and, at the same time, keep R below one.

“So, there are going to have to be some very difficult choices between different things, all of which ideally all of us would love to open up, but we can’t do them all.

“Therefore, there will have to be some difficult choices, and choices around schools clearly will be one of those.”

It comes as the Archbishop of Canterbury will give the first assembly at a newly-created virtual school set up so students can continue to learn during lockdown.

Justin Welby will be the first in a list of famous faces to lead an assembly for the Government-backed Oak National Academy this Thursday.

The academy was set up by 40 teachers in less than a fortnight and launched earlier this month.

It is aimed at students from Reception to Year 10, and has seen over two million lessons accessed already.


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It provides 180 classes a week – equating to three hours a day for primary school students and four hours for secondary.

The Archbishop is due to say: “It’s wonderful that this Academy is growing and exists in these dark times, it’s a place of light and of commitment to the future.

“I suspect this year 2020 will stick in the mind for many reasons and there are lots of things that you will be going through.

“What do we do with that? He will add: “For Christians, it’s all summed up in a word ‘hope’ – hope means the certain expectation of something you don’t have yet but you will have in the future because it’s been promised by God.

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