Covid restrictions for schools to end at Step 4 – Friday 9 July 2021

This week I report on the new guidance issued by the DfE on Covid restrictions in education settings ending from Step 4 as well as the 2021 version of Keeping Children Safe in Education and a new version of Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment guidance.

Covid restrictions in education settings to end at Step 4
On Tuesday, the Education Secretary confirmed that Covid restrictions in education settings will end from Step 4 in line with the general removal of restrictions for England at Step 4.  Key headlines include:

  • Over the summer, staff and secondary school students should continue to test regularly if they are attending settings that remain open
  • Secondary schools are to prepare for on-site testing at the beginning of the Autumn term as all secondary school students should receive two on-site lateral flow device tests, 3 to 5 days apart, on their return in the autumn
  • Schools can commence testing from 3 working days before the start of term and can stagger students’ return across the first week to manage this
  • Secondary schools should retain a small on-site testing facility until further notice in case students are unable to test themselves at home
  • Students should then continue to test twice weekly at home until the end of September, when this will be reviewed by the DfE
  • Only students that test positive will need to self-siolate
  • Schools will no longer trace close contacts, although they will still be identified via NHS Test and Trace and those identified as close contacts will be advised to take a PCR test, and will only need to isolate if they test positive
  • Students will not need to remain in a consistent group (‘bubble’)
  • Face coverings will no longer be advised for students, staff and visitors either in classrooms or in communal areas
  • Schools should provide remote education equivalent in length to the core teaching students would usually get in school if they can’t attend due to contracting Covid
  • All schools will have outbreak management plans in place outlining how they will operate if there is an outbreak in their setting or local area. The Government may also offer local areas of particular concern an enhanced response package to help limit increases in transmission. Revised Operational Guidance has been published in relation to this.

Keeping Children Safe in Education for September 2021 Published
This week the DfE also published the 2021 version of Keeping Children Safe in Education which will come into force on 1 September 2021, in addition a new version of Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment guidance has also been published, ready to come into force on 1 September.