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In-person schooling is essential even during periods of high transmission of COVID-19
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  • Published on:
    What actually happened to 'R' in March 2020 as a result of school closures in the UK??
    • David J Goldsmith, Retired Consultant Physician Retired
    • Other Contributors:
      • Eric J Orlowski, PhD Candidate

    The article by Alastair Munro and colleagues (to which this is a rapid response) is of great value and importance, as we can now see, since this article was published, that there has been considerable discussion and interrogation by the COVID inquiry (, about whether the closure of schools, ordered on 18th March 2020 by Boris Johnson's government, and put into effect two days later on 20th March, was ever necessary.

    The rationale for the closure of schools was that it was imperative that the transmission rate of the COVID-19 pandemic, then rapidly spreading in the UK, was brought down at pace. Only three days later, a full, mandated, "lock down" was imposed. This was in the context of a suite of increasingly draconian measures to impose Non-Pharmaceutical Interventions (NPIs) on an increasingly fretful population - on March 12th, 16th, 20th and 23rd.

    The question we pose of the authors of the current paper under discussion is a simple one. What is the actual, real world, evidence that the 'R' value fell as a result of the closure of schools? Is there any real-world, UK-based, 2020 information we can use to answer this question. This question cannot remotely be answered by reference to other countries, or, to mathematical models. The impact of school closures must also be analysed independently of all of the other contemporaneous NPIs.

    If the o...

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    Conflict of Interest:
    None declared.