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Boris Johnson’s drive to reopen schools backed as experts say kids hardly raise ‘R’ rate

BORIS Johnson was backed yesterday in his drive to reopen schools by a leading scientist who said kids were “very minor players” in spreading Covid and hardly raised the “R” rate.

In a dig at the teaching unions, the Prime Minister warned it was the “right thing for everybody” for pupils to return to school next month.

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And to the delight of Downing Street, he was boosted by Professor Russell Viner, president of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health.

The key member of the Government’s Sage scientific advisory group said yesterday “reopening schools is one of the least risky things we can do”.

He insisted it would “add little” to the crucial “R” spread rate.

Yesterday the PM repeated that getting schools back up and running was a key priority, at the cost of all other lockdown relaxation measures.

A major review of the North West lockdown, European travel restrictions and reopening beauty salons and casinos is due to take place by Friday.

Last night the PM’s spokesman said: “It is correct to say schools would be the absolute last sector to close in any local lockdown. And other venues would be expected to be closed first in the event that strict lockdown measures had to be applied.”

 

Unions are now     demanding checklists running to hundreds of pages before they commit to getting members back.

But the PM yesterday called for a united effort to get classrooms open again.

He said on a visit to a school in East London: “It’s very important that everybody works together to ensure that our schools are safe and they are Covid-secure.

“I have been very impressed by the work that the teachers have done, working with the unions, to make sure that all schools are safe to go back to in September. But, basically, the plan is there — get everybody back in September, that’s the right thing for everybody.”

Meanwhile, the boss of the World Health Organization said there were “green shoots of hope” in the war against Covid-19.

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said successful lockdowns also pave the way for the safe reopening of schools. He praised the UK’s local lockdowns.

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