The current rules around isolating in schools in England could be dropped in autumn, over concerns that too many children are missing out on schooling.
The new children’s commissioner for England also called for bubble arrangements and self-isolation rules for school pupils to end soon.
At a glance: 5 key points
– The DfE has confirmed that the rules around self-isolating for schools in England could be dropped this coming autumn
– There are concerns in government and across the country at how much time children are missing from school as a result of quarantine rules
– Secondary schools have been asked by the Department for Education (DfE) to prepare to replace the existing system with testing.
– Schools minister Nick Gibb has said the government is trialling the use of testing instead of self-isolation in schools
– Dame Rachel de Souza the new children’s commissioner for England, has said children have “taken a big burden” and bubble arrangements should also be scrapped
What’s been said?
A DfE spokesman said: “We are provisionally asking secondary schools and colleges to prepare to offer on-site testing when students return for the new academic year, so that schools are ready in case it is needed to keep as many children as possible in face-to-face education.
“We will provide further details about the approach to protective measures and test and trace in education from September in due course.”
Speaking to Sky News, Schools minister Nick Gibb said: “We are conducting trials of daily contact testing as a possible alternative to self-isolation.
“What matters also is that we keep the school safe and, if you go around our schools, you will see a raft of measures to reduce the infection rates within schools.
“There’s extra hygiene, there’s staggered breaks, we keep children in bubbles, and there’s extra ventilation in classrooms to minimise the risk of transmission.”
Children’s Commissioner Rachel De Souza said: “The experience of lockdown has been a real trauma, and I think we shouldn’t underestimate it.
“Children are really troubled, and it’s right across the board.”
“They have done a huge amount for us, I mean they really were the least at risk of this and they’ve given up 19 weeks of their education, they’ve had all this anxiety and concern and exams cancelled; they’ve taken a big burden for us.”
Currently children have to self-isolate for 10 days if another pupil in their bubble tests positive for coronavirus.
A recent survey of more than 550,000 children, run by the office of the Children’s Commissioner, showed mental health was the biggest concern for 20% of respondents, a figure that rose to 40% for those aged 14-17.