All schoolchildren in England will return to class from March 8, the Prime Minister has confirmed. But the return of high school and college students could be staggered due to the logistics of mass testing.
Boris Johnson has confirmed the easing of lockdown restrictions as part of a phased roadmap for reopening that will see Covid-19 restrictions relaxed in four stages spread over at least four months.
Mr Johnson told MPs on February 22: “All the evidence shows that classrooms are the best places for our young people and that is why I have always said schools will be the last to close and the first to. reopen.”
Breakfast and after-school clubs can also reopen, and other children’s activities, including sports, can restart “if needed to help parents work.”
Families and childcare bubbles will be encouraged to get tested regularly.
All primary and secondary schools have been closed since January 5 following the introduction of a third national lockdown in England, and have since offered distance learning to students. Only vulnerable children and children of primary workers are currently allowed to attend schools for face-to-face learning.
Pupils in the founding phase in Wales and those in grades 1 to 3 of primary education in Scotland resumed face-to-face learning on 22 February, although a return to second phase for older pupils was not should not be expected before mid-March at the earliest.
Some Northern Ireland primary school students will return to school on March 8, while secondary school students in the key exam years will return to school on March 22.
Mr Johnson’s optimism about the school reopening is based on the success of the vaccination program, as more than 17 million people received the first dose of the vaccine in the UK on February 22.
Read more: Covid lockdown roadmap: key dates revealed for England’s easing of restrictions
What is the government planning to do to help children catch up?
The government has appointed an education revival czar, Sir Kevan Collins, to deal with the amount of learning children missed during the pandemic.
The Prime Minister has made it clear that the government must immediately focus on education, and Sir Collins will lead a team of experts who will draft proposals on how to help children catch up.
One-to-one tuition for students and summer schools are said to be under discussion, and Department of Education (DfE) officials will study the evidence and cost-effectiveness of adding extra lessons at the start and end of the year. the day.
In an interview with the TBEN, Sir Kevan said: “I think we have to think about overtime not only for learning, but also for the children to be together, to play, to play competitive sport, for music. , for the theater because these are critical areas that have been missed in their development. “
He said teachers should be urged “to increase children’s learning time”.
Are there any changes to the exams?
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson announced on January 6 that the GCSE, A-Level and AS exams would not take place this summer.
However, internal exams can be used as a resource “to support their student assessments”, although teachers provide final grades.
While teachers’ predicted grades will always be used, exams may be necessary so that teachers can “draw on this resource to support their student assessments,” he said.
So far, there has been no official announcement from the Secretary of Education regarding the reinstatement of exams.
This is a large, supported review board that has called for A-Level and GCSE reform in the wake of Covid-19, saying qualifications need to be ‘fit for the 21st century’.
Edexcel’s parent company Pearson has launched a UK qualifications exam for 14-19 year olds, saying the pandemic has forced everyone to ‘adjust and rethink’ how they assess young people.
How will the tests in schools work?
High school and college students will be tested for Covid-19 four times in the first two weeks of the term and they will then be asked to take the rapid home coronavirus tests twice a week.
High school and college students will be asked to use a lateral flow device upon their return on March 8 – and if they test negative, they will be allowed to resume face-to-face classes. But elementary school children won’t need to take a rapid coronavirus test.
The telegraph revealed that parents will be given lateral flow tests to perform the tests at home.
It is understood that high school and college officials will have some flexibility to stagger the return of students from March 8 to ensure students are tested before returning to class.
In January, the government ended plans for daily screening of high school students and teachers in lieu of isolation if they came into close contact with someone who tested positive.
Public Health England said it had “reviewed” its advice and found that the balance between the risks and benefits of a daily testing program in schools is “not clear”. But he confirmed that the other part of the testing plan – the two tests per week for students and teachers – will continue.