Children are more at risk of being in a car crash on the way to school than from catching Covid-19, the deputy chief medical officer has said.
As the Government tries to reassure parents about the return to school next week, Dr Jenny Harries pointed out that the biggest risk of transmission is "between staff" and teachers are more likely to spread the virus in the staffroom than the classroom.
She said that no environment is "risk free" but added: “Every time the parents send their child off to school pre-Covid they may have been involved in a road traffic accident, there are all sorts of things. And in fact that risk or the risk from seasonal flu, we think is probably higher than the current risks of Covid.”
Her comments come as a Public Health England study found that the majority of cases in schools that opened to some pupils before the summer were from staff-to-staff interactions.
Data showed that despite more than 1.6 million youngsters returning to education, just 70 children tested positive for the virus and 128 staff members.
Dr Harries said that community transmission risk "is far more important than schools".
The comments come after the UK's chief medical officers issued a joint statement seeking to reassure parents that it was safe to send their children back to school.
Dr Harries told BBC Breakfast: "The transmission from younger children - when teachers are perhaps more likely to be closer to them - is much lower.
"Actually in the studies that have been done so far, the risk probably of transmission between staff, rather than to or from children, is the one that teachers perhaps should be focusing on - so it's going off for a coffee break, you know, dropping your guard down."
She said that teachers need to be encouraged to wash their hands and maintain social distancing even on their breaks.
Dr Harries also said it would be "unlikely" that there would be a scenario where all schools across the country would be forced to close again.
But in areas subject to a local lockdown there could be individual schools forced to close.