Thank you for contacting me about school children having to self-isolate as a result of Covid-19.
The Secretary of State for Education has said that he is determined to reduce the amount of time pupils are spending having to isolate away from school. As such, the Department for Education has announced that the bubble policy will end on 19th July, when the Government proceeds with the plan to move to Stage Four of the roadmap. Instead to keep pupils and staff safe and in school, contact tracing will be transferred to NHS Test and Trace, who will alert pupils and staff if there is an outbreak in their educational setting. As I understand it, from 16th August any child under the age of 18 will only have to self-isolate if they receive a positive test result and will not be required to isolate if they are identified as a close contact of another positive case. Instead, they will be informed that they have been identified as a close contact and advised to undertake a PCR test.
I am aware that when students go back to secondary schools and colleges in the autumn term, asymptomatic testing will resume, including two tests in person on return. This means that aside from the tests taken in person on the return to school, pupils will still be expected to carry on testing themselves twice a week using lateral flow tests. The current measures in place including enhanced cleaning and hygiene and improved ventilation should remain in place when the Government moves to Stage Four of the roadmap, however staggered starts will no longer be required.
I can assure you that the Government is committed to ensuring that children’s education and freedom comes first when country moves through to the next stage of easing restrictions.