Boris Johnson announced his roadmap out of lockdown to the House of Commons today, detailing the dates schools are set to reopen and under what circumstances. With so much confusion around when schools will reopen in recent months, it's come as a welcome certainty for parents.
'When are students going back to school?', 'secondary school testing' and 'when will kids go back to school' are all major search terms right now. So, what did Boris Johnson say about schools? Here's everything you need to know.
When will schools reopen?
All schools in England are set to reopen from 8 March, Boris Johnson has confirmed in the House of Commons today. However, schools are each able to decide their own phased return during the week, meaning some years may go back on different days. It comes after an alliance of teachers' and head teachers' unions warned that sending back 10 million children and school staff at the same time was 'reckless' and risked triggering a fresh wave of infections.
Attendance will be compulsory, with penalty fines able to be imposed, when schools reopen.
Wraparound childcare (including childminders) and other children’s activities can restart from 8 March for all children where it is needed to enable parents or carers to work, seek work, attend education, seek medical care or attend a support group, the government has stated.
What is wraparound childcare?
Wraparound childcare is childcare that schools provide outside of normal school hours, such as breakfast clubs or after school childcare.
Secondary school testing: what you need to know
To aide schools reopening, the prime minister said mass Covid testing will be implemented in all secondary schools with no mention of testing for primary schools so far.
'In addition to the already established rapid testing regime and regular testing of staff, there will be twice-weekly testing of secondary school and college pupils, initially with on-site testing and then home testing,' the government wrote in their Spring 2021 Covid Response report. 'All households with school children, members of their support and childcare bubbles, and those in related occupations will also be encouraged to get tested regularly.'
Secondary schools will be expected to test pupils three times on site and then once at home during the first two weeks that schools return. After that, parents and carers will be expected to test their children twice weekly at home - with provisions in place for those who cannot.
Schools will receive additional testing kits for both on-site and home testing in the coming weeks. Lateral flow tests involve taking a swab sample from the back of the throat and and from the nose.
Face masks will also be required in some secondary school classrooms.