As parents and teachers across the U.S. argue over the importance of mask and vaccine mandates (or lack thereof), England has not left the issue up for debate.
In early September, millions of children returned to schools with face coverings not required in classrooms and with vaccines eligible for only those aged 12 and older.
Experts said the plan was a gamble – but it appears to have paid off.
Daily case numbers in Britain are much lower than during the summer wave, suggesting that the high rate of vaccination among adults has prevented schools from causing a surge in infections.
In fact, new cases per day are more than 60 percent lower than what they were projected to be.
What’s more, Covid cases may have finally peaked in children with recent figures from the UK Department of Health and Social Care showing the number of kids and teens testing positive has fallen in the past week.
Last month, children headed back to school in the UL with no requirements for masks in classrooms and with most unvaccinated, but this does not appear to have caused a surge in cases. Pictured: Pupils listen during a geography lesson at Whitchurch High School on in Cardiff, Wales, September 14
Public Health England data suggest case rates have finally peaked in children after exploding at the start of the new term from one in 20 testing positive to one in 30
In mid-July, during the peak of the UK’s summer surge, England was recording 50,955 daily new cases, according to Public Health England (PHE).
As of Thursday, 33,025 new infections were recorded.
This is 60 percent lower than predictions made by Health Secretary Sajid Javid, who told BBC Radio in July that lifting restrictions would lead to 100,000 cases per day.
Experts say Covid vaccinations are to thank, with percentages very high among the eligible population.
Around 85 percent of those aged 12 and older in England have received at least one dose and 78.1 percent are fully vaccinated, PHE data show.
Covid cases may have finally peaked in English children with one in 30 testing positive, down from one in 20 last week
These are much higher than parentages in the U.S., where 76.2 percent of people aged 12 and older have been given at least one vaccine dose and 65.8 percent have completed their vaccine series.
This means that it appears Britain’s successful vaccine rollout has prevented schools from fueling new outbreaks.
COVID-19 deaths have not risen in school-aged children and are lowest in children aged 15 or younger, showing school openings have not caused Coivd deaths to increase
The UK government has insisted that the low number of children who have missed school days show that the plan is working.
Recent data show 90 percent of the more than eight million students in UK state schools are in classrooms.
What’s more, of the 10 percent of students who were absent, the majority were for non-Covid reasons.
Parents have applauded the effort and have said the larger danger would have been keeping kids in masks or forcing them into remote learning.
‘It’s important for kids,’ Morgane Kargadouris, whose daughter attends Notting Hill Preparatory School in London, told The New York Times.
‘So much of what they learn is through expressions and through contact they have with people.’
And, even though, infections recently exploded among children – with one in 20 students between ages 10 and 19 infected – it appears the surge is tapering off.
Department of Health figures show infections are still highest among 10 to 14-year-olds.
There were 1,540 positive tests per every 100,000 people in that age group during the week ending September 27 after soaring at the start of the new term.
But this has fallen for five days, dropping to just 1,461 per 100,000 in the seven-day spell ending October 2 – the most recent day figures are available for.
A similar trend is visible among 15 to 19-year-olds, which saw cases peak in the same seven-day window at 651 per 100,000). It now stands at 635 per 100,000.
And cases among five to nine-year-olds have been falling for nine days in a row after peaking at 569 per 100,000 on September 23. Some 487 per 100,000 in the cohort are now infected.
Overall, the rate of infection has decreased to one in 30 testing positive for Covid.
Experts say the downturn could signal rising immunity from a combination of vaccination and infections among young people.
Professor Sir Terence Stephenson, an expert in child health at the Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health, told DailyMail.com cases could be falling because immunity levels are rising among young people and parents due to vaccines and natural infection.
COVID-19 deaths also continue to remain low in children, according to data from the Office of National Statistics.
Virus-related deaths increased in the 25-to-44, 54-to-64 and 75-to-84 age groups, but remained flat or declined in all other age groups.
What’s more, the death rate was lowest in children aged 15 or younger, showing that not only have school openings not caused Coivd deaths to rise but also that school-aged children do not have a high risk of death compared to adults.