Covid rates among UK schoolchildren lower than last year

Study suggests 'school gate' measures to stop spread of coronavirus are working

CHERTSEY, UNITED KINGDOM - MARCH 09: (EDITORIAL USE ONLY) Pupils gather in the playground for a break on their first day back from lockdown at Chertsey High School on March 09, 2021 in Chertsey, United Kingdom. Chertsey High school, which is part of the Bourne Education Trust, is continuing to conduct lateral flow testing within the school every 3 to five days until all children who have consented have completed three tests, before being asked to complete the tests at home. England's schools re-opened to pupils from March 8th, 2021 after closing for a third lockdown on January 5th, 2021.  (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

A study by the UK government has found Covid-19 infection rates remain low in the country's schools, especially compared with the same period last year.

The Schools Infections Survey found that 0.27 per cent of primary level pupils tested positive for coronavirus while the positivity rate for secondary school pupils was 0.42 per cent.

The figures are considerably lower than in November and December last year, when authorities discovered a positivity rate close to or above 1 per cent.

The most recent study was conducted by the Office for National Statistics, Public Health England and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), and was carried out between June 14 and July 6, 2021.

In secondary schools, 0.27 per cent of staff tested positive and over one in 10 teachers had received at least one vaccine dose by the end of June.

The authors of the study conducted in-person tests in 141 schools across England, the majority of which (108) had no positive cases at all.

“School gate” measures to combat infections and prompt testing appear to have significantly reduced the spread of the disease, the authors of the study said.

Authorities say they hope the findings will reassure parents about the risk posed to pupils in the classroom.

The study also showed that the rate of infections among schoolchildren was lower than the rate in the general population.

Dr Shamez Ladhani, Consultant Paediatrician at PHE and study lead, said: “Through this study we’ve closely monitored the risks of Covid-19 in schools.

“Latest results show that infection and antibody positivity rates of children in school did not exceed those of the community. This is reassuring and confirms that schools are not hubs of infection.

“Keeping community infection rates low remains critical for keeping children safe and schools open safely.

“Thanks to all staff and pupils up and down the country for playing their part in keeping transmission of the virus in schools low.”

Updated: August 11th 2021, 5:19 PM