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Schools and COVID-19: Reopening Pandora’s box?

Lay Summary

Schools in countries across the world are reopening as lockdown to slow progression of COVID-19 is eased. The UK government ordered school closures in England from March 20, 2020, later than the rest of Europe. A temporary and limited return for some year groups was trialled from June 2020. Teachers, school governors, the public and doctors have openly challenged the decision. The UK government has struggled to provide enough detailed information to convince the public, teachers and health practitioners, that effective systems for protection, including test, trace and isolate, are in place to prevent and manage outbreaks in schools. Risks of infection on reopening to children, staff and families must be weighed against the harms of closure to children’s education and social development. The potential consequences, if the re-opening of schools is managed badly, is subsequent waves of COVID-19 infection leading to more deaths, further school closures and prolonged restrictions, losing any ground gained thus far. This article weighs the evidence for risks and benefits of reopening schools during the pandemic.


Ziauddeen N, Woods-Townsend K, Saxena S, Gilbert R, Alwan N.

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