All secondary schools have been asked by the Government to provide an on-site coronavirus test for pupils ahead of their return to the classroom this term.
The measure is aimed at reducing the transmission of COVID-19 and is similar to steps taken before the start of previous school terms over the last year.
College students and education staff are being asked to self-test in their own home before they return, and should have been sent home with tests ahead of the Christmas break. Over recent days, many members of the public have struggled to get lateral flow or PCR tests due to reported shortages, though the Government has said that schools and colleges will continue to be able to order additional coronavirus tests through a separate supply route.
All secondary, college and university students and education staff are being asked to continue to get tested twice a week, except when asked to get tested more frequently. University students are also being asked to get tested before travelling back to campuses after the Christmas and New Year break.
Schools in England are expected to re-open as normal this term, though some safety measures will be in place to try and reduce the spread of the virus. As part of this, pupils in years 7 and above and staff will be told to wear face coverings in communal areas and classrooms.
Speaking ahead of young people returning to education settings, Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi also urged all eligible people to get vaccinated against COVID-19:
“The very best way we can continue to protect ourselves and our families is by getting the booster, or second jab if you are aged 12-15 – as soon as possible. I urge anyone who hasn’t done this to do so now.”
The National Education Union urged the Government on Sunday to make mask wearing a requirement, and called for many more air purifiers in classrooms, after 7,000 more were announced for classrooms in England.
Away from education settings, the Government’s Plan B measures for tackling the pandemic, including people working from home, are expected to remain in place as record numbers of infections are recorded across the country.