Covid cases in schools fuel two-tier pandemic with children and their parents more exposed

Cases of Covid-19 are declining among almost every age group in England, with the exception of school children and their parents’ generation.

The rise in cases among schoolchildren is so pronounced that it has essentially created two separate levels of Covid-19, with one group experiencing transmission among unvaccinated young adults, while the other continues to see cases at a low level.

As winter approaches halfway through, there are fears that the self-contained epidemic will spread among schoolchildren and their parents to other, more vulnerable age groups.

Professor Christina Bagel, Director of the Clinical Operational Research Unit at University College London, said: “We have two epidemics going on now, one in school children and their parent’s generation, and these are the only age groups that are increasing and everyone else is decreasing. The question is what happens next. Does it start in Reaching the Ancestral Generation?”

The massive rise in Covid-19 cases among schoolchildren is in stark contrast to anywhere else in Europe, where many countries vaccinated younger age groups much earlier than the UK. Less than 2 percent of children under 18 are fully vaccinated, compared to about one in five under 18 in Ireland and Spain.

Even in England, the early deployment of punches to 16-17-year-olds has had a clear impact on Covid-19 cases, with cases declining after a brief spike once schools return in September. At the same time, cases of infection in the 12-15-year-old group have risen dramatically in recent weeks.

More than 10 percent of schoolchildren have been absent on any given day since schools reopened in September. Attendance is much higher than at this point last year but still below pre-pandemic levels. In the 2018/2019 school year, 5% of pupils were not in class.

High levels of absenteeism as well as rising cases have cast doubt on whether the government is doing enough to ensure that children’s education is not disrupted by the pandemic.

Kevin Courtney, joint secretary general of the National Education Consortium, said: “Despite its promises, the government has not done enough to slow the spread through measures such as wearing masks, launching carbon dioxide monitors and improving ventilation.

“The government’s continued failure to improve ventilation in schools leaves staff and students needlessly at higher risk of disease and further disruption to education.”

The government has stated that it is committed to finding a balance between managing transmission risks and minimizing disruption head-on.

A spokesperson for the Department of Education said: “We are working with parents, school and college staff to maximize student time in the classroom – encouraging uptake of testing and vaccination for 12-15-year-olds, and hiring professional counselors to come to work on strategies to improve attendance. Where problems are identified.

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