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School bubbles to end – and pupils will only need to self-isolate if test positive from 16 August

Written by on 06/07/2021

The school bubble system is being scrapped in England when step four of the easing of lockdown happens – hopefully on 19 July.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has also announced from 16 August pupils will no longer have to self-isolate if they are a close contact of someone who tests positive.

Mask wearing and social distancing will also end as part of the next step in lockdown easing, which Boris Johnson has said he hopes will be 19 July.

“We’re also setting out new rules that mean from the 16 August children will only need to isolate if they have tested positive for COVID-19,” Mr Williamson said.

The responsibility for making pupils and staff self-isolate will be transferred from schools to the NHS Test and Trace system from 19 July.

Schools will also no longer need to stagger start and finish times from that date, but Mr Williamson said they can continue to until the end of the summer term if they wish.

Children who are contacted by Track and Trace as being a contact of someone who has tested positive will be advised to take a PCR test.

More on Covid-19

Hundreds of thousands of school pupils have been required to self-isolate each week as part of the government’s bubble system under which all pupils in a “bubble”, such as a class or year group, have to isolate for 10 days if somebody tests positive.

Each bubble is meant to keep separate from others to minimise the spread of coronavirus and to stop entire schools from having to self-isolate.

However, the system has been heavily criticised by parents and teachers over concerns pupils are missing school unnecessarily.

In June, the number of pupils sent home due to COVID quadrupled, but only about 4% were confirmed cases while the rest were because of a potential contact at school.

There are concerns pupils’ education and mental health are being harmed by not being in school when they are not ill, with children sometimes coming out of isolation to then have to go back in soon after.

It is also causing issues for parents who have to juggle work and childcare.

 Sky News

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