Back To School: Covid-19 Measures Still in Place?

As students prepare to return to the classroom next month, WhichSchoolAdvisor rounds up how schools in England will stay Covid-19 safe.
This article is part of an editorial series on Covid-19
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This article is part of an editorial series on Covid-19

The new academic year will start without class bubbles and compulsory masks at schools across England – but term will start with the mass testing of all secondary-aged students and the possibility of vaccinations for all children aged 12 and above.

As schools prepare to reopen for the 2021-22 academic year from September 6, WhichSchoolAdvisor looks at the latest rules and regulations from the government to curb the spread of Covid-19.

Compared with the reopening of schools in 2020, there will be fewer measures required for the start of term next month. Restrictions such as bubbles will be eased to allow a full return to sport, music, drama, science experiments, and group activities. Schools and colleges will continue to enforce protective measures such as testing, ventilation and extra hygiene precautions in a bid to minimise disruption to face-to-face education.

Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid says:

"As students in England prepare to return to school they can look forward to a more normal year – seeing their friends, getting back to sports and activities, and of course learning."

Will there still be class bubbles and will students need to wear masks?

No. The Department for Education has dropped requirements for children in England to be taught within smaller groups or bubbles to restrict the spread of Covid-19. Secondary and college students are no longer required to wear masks, but are advised to wear them on school buses and public transport, and social distancing measures such as staggered starts have also been dropped.

Do students need to self-isolate if there is a confirmed case of Covid-19 in their class?

No. Students aged 18 and under, or those who are fully vaccinated, no longer need to self-isolate if they are identified as a close contact. They are advised to take a PCR test though.

Will students need to be tested before the school term starts?

Yes. Secondary schools and colleges are offering two lateral flow tests on-campus (three to five days apart) on their return for the autumn term. Students in Years 7 and above are encouraged to continue with twice-weekly testing at home.

Do students need to get the Covid-19 vaccine?

Students aged 16 and 17, as well as younger children aged 12-15 in certain eligible groups, are encouraged to take up the offer of the vaccine. It is anticipated that children aged 12-15 years will soon be offered the vaccine as part of a planned extension to England's vaccination programme.

Will exams and assessments return to normal in 2021-22?

The Department for Education says it plans to return to a full programme of primary assessments, which will include the introduction of a statutory Reception Baseline Assessment and Multiplication Tables Check.

The DfE also says that all exams, including GCSEs and A Levels, will go ahead in summer 2022.

Read more: UK Boarders: Do I Need to Quarantine?

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