The Department of Education of UK has unveiled detailed plans for all children and young people to return to full-time education from September.
Current restrictions on group sizes will be lifted to allow schools, colleges and nurseries to fully reopen to all children and young people, as Covid-19 infection rates continue to fall.
Covid-19 secure measures will remain in place to reduce the risk of transmission, with schools being asked to keep children in class or year group sized ‘bubbles’ and encourage older children to keep their distance from each other and staff where possible. This is alongside protective measures such as regular cleaning and handwashing.
Where there is a positive case in a school or college, the Public Health England local health protection team will advise on the appropriate action, which could include small groups of young people and staff being asked to self-isolate for up to 14 days. Where there are two or more confirmed cases in a two-week period, health protection teams may ask a larger number of other children or young people to self-isolate at home as a precautionary measure.
Where an outbreak in a school is confirmed, for specific detailed investigations a mobile testing unit may be dispatched to test others who may have been in contact with the person who has tested positive. Testing will first focus on the person’s class, followed by their year group, then the whole school if necessary.
All staff, pupils and their families will continue to have access to testing if they develop Covid-19 symptoms and schools will be provided with easy to use home testing kits for children and staff who would otherwise be unable to get a test.
Schools will be expected to have plans in place to offer remote education to pupils who are self-isolating.
For nurseries, childminders, and other early years providers, restrictions on group sizes will be lifted from 20 July, increasing capacity from the start of the summer holiday.
“I know these past three months have been some of the most challenging that schools have faced. What they have achieved to make sure that young people are kept safe and can continue to learn during this period is remarkable, and I am incredibly grateful for that,” said Education Secretary Gavin Williamson.
“Thanks to the hard work of everyone, including our teachers and all school staff, there has been a decline in the rate of COVID-19 transmission in our communities,” added Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Jenny Harries. “A child’s education is essential to their healthy development – we know that missing too much school can have a negative impact on children’s mental and physical wellbeing.”
Schools will need to work with families to secure full attendance from the start of the new academic year, with the reintroduction of mandatory attendance.
To ensure pupils can catch up on lost learning, schools will be required to resume teaching a broad and balanced curriculum in all subjects, making use of existing flexibilities to create time to address gaps in knowledge. Schools should consider how all subjects can contribute to filling gaps in core knowledge.
This will help pupils catch up and will work alongside the financial support provided to primary and secondary schools through the Government’s £1 billion Covid-19 catch-up package. This is on top of the £14 billion that we are investing in schools over the next three years.