30 Jun COVID-19: End of school ‘bubble’ system to be announced in next stage of England’s coronavirus roadmap | Politics News
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has told MPs he expects the removal of school “bubbles” to be announced as part of step four of England’s roadmap for lifting COVID restrictions.
Speaking in the House of Commons, Mr Williamson said he wanted to see restrictions on schools and colleges – including the bubble system – removed “as quickly as possible along with wider restrictions in society”.
“I do not think it is acceptable that children should face greater restrictions over and above those of wider society – especially since they have given up so much to keep older generations safe over the last 18 months,” he added.
“Further steps will be taken to reduce the number of children who have to self-isolate, including looking at the outcomes of a daily contact testing trial, as we consider a new model for keeping children in schools and colleges.
“We constantly assess all available data and we expect to be able to confirm plans to lift restrictions and bubbles as part of step four.
“Once that decision has been made, we’ll issue guidance immediately to schools.”
The government has recently trialled daily contact testing for children as an alternative to an entire school bubble – made up of a class or even whole year group – having to self-isolate if one of their number is infected.
However, Mr Williamson signalled changes to coronavirus measures for schools would not come prior to the end of the summer term.
“We will of course be informing schools and keeping them up to date as to that progress in plenty of time before the start of the next term,” he told MPs.
Government figures show the number of children off school due to COVID-19 in England is at its highest rate since schools reopened in March.
Data released by the Department of Education showed around 5.1% of all pupils in state-funded schools did not attend school for COVID-19 related reasons on 24 June – a total of 375,000 children.
This was up from 3.3% on 17 June and 1.2% on 10 June.
Amid rising cases of the Delta variant of COVID, the government postponed the fourth and final step of its roadmap for lifting lockdown restrictions to 19 July.