Independent SAGE released its first schools report in May 2020, updated for the return to school in
September 2020. Most of the recommendations we made then remain highly relevant a year later,
including advice on bubbles, distancing, ventilation, testing and support for staff and students,
particularly students from deprived communities.
In November, community case rate were high and cases in school children were high and causing
significant disruption to children’s education. We released an urgent plan for schools on 27th
November 2020 in partnership with the EAGLE research group for education. This detailed
immediate actions to keep children safely in education and the responsibilities of central
government, Ofsted, local authorities, headteachers and governors. Most of the measures we
advocated were not implemented and case rates in school age children soared in December, partly
fuelled by the rise of the Alpha variant and rising community case rates after the November
lockdown ended. By end of term in December 2020, case rates were 190, 340 and 420 per 100,000
people per week for 5 to 9, 10 to 14 and 15 to 19 year olds respectively.
We believe that our urgent and detailed plan for schools from last November remains highly relevant so we have re-released it with an updated introduction for the current context. This document provides some detailed and practical advice for making schools safer that complements an urgent letter to Gavin Williamson published in the BMJ on 3rd September.