Will reopening of schools in England be delayed? Warning that testing pupils for Covid could take a week

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The Department for Education has insisted that pupils will have more stability when they return in September after more than 18 months of disruption

Pupils’ return to schools in England in September is set to be delayed again due to Covid-19 testing.

The first week of the autumn term is due to be spent carrying out tests for coronavirus, with all secondary school pupils required to take two tests on returning to classrooms next month.

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A week-long delay to term start

The testing requirements are set to take up the whole of the first week of term to carry out, meaning millions of pupils face missing more days of school as a result of the pandemic.

It is expected that most schools will not begin lessons until the second week.

Geoff Barton, head of the ASCL headteachers’ union, told The Sun: “If you have nine million children going back, having been mixing through the summer, you can see the need to test them on site.

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“We thought we could focus on the norm of education and already we have the spectre of disruption. Parents may feel rightly frustrated.”

Pupils across the country have already missed out on weeks of in-classroom learning, with the several lockdowns forcing teachers to carry out lessons remotely via Zoom.

Experts have warned of the impact of lost learning, but the Department for Education (DfE) has insisted that pupils will have more stability when they return in September, adding that schools can open a week before the start of term to carry out testing.

However, despite promises of a less chaotic term, the government has come under fire for not having a clear plan in place to help schools deal with the ongoing challenges of the upcoming academic year.

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Pepe Di’lasio, headteacher at Wales High School, in Rotherham, South Yorkshire, has called for greater clarity and direction ahead of the new term.

Mr Di’lasio said: “In terms of the strategic approach and in terms of a plan, there’s very little coming out of central government.

“I think all headteachers want some information and we need some support about where we are going to go to support those students who are coming through into Year 11 as we return in September who have also missed 18 months of education.

“And students going into Years 12 and 13 not knowing what their exams are going to look like and how they might be tested. All that uncertainty still remains within the system.

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“We want to give confidence to our young people to let them know that we’ve got what we need to support them, we’ve got the resources to help them and, at the moment, that reassurance isn’t there from central government.”

When do schools reopen?

In England, the autumn term is due to start on Friday 3 September.

Term dates can differ by council areas, so some schools may go back earlier or later than others.

To check the term dates where you live, simply enter your postcode on the government website.

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In Scotland, pupils have already returned after breaking up for he summer a month earlier than the rest of the UK, with the majority of Scottish schools welcoming pupils back on 18 and 19 August.

In Wales, the autumn term is due to start on Thursday 2 September.

Again, the term dates may differ depending on which council area you live in. To check the dates where you live, simply check the website of your local council.

The autumn term is due to start on Wednesday 1 September in Northern Ireland. You can check the dates in your local area via the government website.

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