School bubbles will remain in place until the end of the summer term before being scrapped in time for the new academic year in September as Government drops self-isolation for children who are a close contact of a positive case from August 16
- Gavin Williamson set out ‘freedom day’ plans for schools to MPs this afternoon
- Education Secretary said school ‘bubbles’ will remain in place for this term
- But policy will then be scrapped, replaced with testing, in time for September
- Pupils who are contacts of positive case no longer have to isolate from August 16
School ‘bubbles’ will remain in place until the end of the Summer term but they will then be scrapped and replaced by testing in time for the start of the new academic year in September.
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said the ‘guidance on isolation of contacts will stay in place until the end of this term’.
But from August 16 all under 18s will no longer be required to self-isolate if they are identified as a close contact of a positive coronavirus case.
Responsibility for tracking outbreaks will be transferred away from headteachers, with NHS Test and Trace being handed responsibility for containing outbreaks.
Pupils contacted by NHS Test and Trace as a contact of a positive case will be required to take a PCR test but they will only have to isolate if they themselves test positive.
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said the ‘guidance on isolation of contacts will stay in place until the end of this term’
The ‘bubbles’ policy is expected to be replaced by a daily testing regime in time for the start of the next academic year in September
A number of ministers have committed in recent weeks to scrapping the current policy but the timeline for doing so has been mired in uncertainty.
Sajid Javid said yesterday that ‘bubbles’ will be axed from July 19 but Boris Johnson had suggested the change would not be made until September.
The Health Secretary told MPs ‘that on July 19 it is our plan to remove bubbles and to end the requirement for early years settings, schools and colleges to routinely carry out contact tracing’.
Mr Johnson had also yesterday confirmed that the policy will be ditched but he did not set a firm date for doing so.
The PM said the Government’s intention is to ‘remove bubbles and contact isolation for pupils’ amid mounting fears over the number of children being forced to stay at home.
Last week Mr Johnson suggested that the shift away from ‘bubbles’ would not be immediate as he said the summer holidays could act as a ‘natural firebreak’.
Tory MPs have demanded the Government ditch ‘bubbles’ as soon as possible even if that means it is ‘just for the last few days of term’.
The Times reported today that Mr Williamson will confirm that ‘bubbles’ will end from July 19.
Many schools are due to break for summer around the same time which means summer camps will be the first setting for many children where the policy will no longer apply.
Current rules state that children have to self-isolate for 10 days if another pupil in their ‘bubble’ tests positive for coronavirus.
This has caused entire year groups to be sent home following outbreaks at some schools.
Sajid Javid said yesterday that ‘bubbles’ will be axed from July 19 but Boris Johnson had suggested the change would not be made until September
Official statistics showed last week that the number of pupils self-isolating at home had quadrupled in two weeks to 375,000.
The Government is planning to replace the ‘bubble’ approach with daily testing to avoid pupils having to self-isolate if they are a contact of a positive case.
The Prime Minister said last week that he understood the frustrations of parents and teachers over the policy but urged them to be patient.
He said: ‘They haven’t concluded yet so what I want to do is just to be cautious as we go forward to that natural firebreak of the summer holidays when the risk in schools will greatly diminish and just ask people to be a little bit patient.’