Schools ‘left in dark’ over plans to scrap Covid bubble system

·2-min read
Currently all children who come into contact with a pupil who tests positive have to isolate at home  (PA Archive)
Currently all children who come into contact with a pupil who tests positive have to isolate at home (PA Archive)

Teachers said they were “incredibly frustrated” at being left in the dark about upcoming changes to school Covid rules and called for the plans to be released urgently before the end of term.

With just weeks until the summer holidays, headteachers said on Monday they had been given no information about proposals to scrap the bubble system and replace the self-isolation of pupils with daily testing.

Currently all children who come into contact with a pupil who tests positive have to isolate at home.

But Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said: “We expect to be able to confirm plans to lift restrictions and bubbles as part of Step 4. Once that decision has been made, we will issue guidance immediately to schools.”

Headteachers warned that it was not clear if changes would be brought in before the end of this term, which gives them just days to plan.

A proposal being considered to replace bubbles is a return to mass testing at schools. Some have been involved in a trial that avoids bubbles and instead allows classmates of those who test positive to stay at school and take a lateral flow test each morning.

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said they had not been given details of how this system would work.

He added: “It is incredibly frustrating for schools and colleges to be reading various press reports about what might happen, with no information about what they are actually expected to do.

“It is particularly pressing because the school summer holidays are fast approaching and arrangements will need to be put in place for the autumn term and communicated to pupils and parents.”

He continued: “We would once again urge the Government to communicate its plans to schools and colleges with clarity and sufficient detail as a matter of urgency.”

Fionnuala Kennedy, head of Wimbledon High School, said: “The thought of a September start where we can gather our school together and be joyful in one, unbubbled space is of course tantalising. But school leaders are waiting, along with everyone else, with no idea as yet as to what will need to be planned for and put in place before the end of this term, let alone in time for next.”

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