| 29 May 2024, Wednesday |

New rules for schools in England to be set out

England’s schools will find out plans to ease rules that have led to large numbers of pupils being sent home if a single child has a positive Covid test.

Last week more than 375,000 children were sent home, which means missed days of lessons for thousands of pupils and frustration for parents juggling work and childcare.

The announcement will come amid a backlash to government plans to ditch rules on the wearing of face masks.

Labour, trade unions and some scientists have said now is not the time to change the rules on masks as case numbers continue to rise rapidly, driven by the new, more infectious Delta variant.

At a Downing Street press conference on Monday, Boris Johnson confirmed he intended to scrap the laws on mask wearing and social distancing in the final stage of England’s Covid lockdown roadmap on 19 July.

The date will be confirmed on 12 July after a review of the latest data.

Other changes announced on Monday include the planned reopening of nightclubs for the first time since the pandemic began, an end to all legal limits on the number of people who can attend events and the scrapping of guidance to work from home.

On schools, Johnson said Education Secretary Gavin Williamson would outline a move away from sending “bubbles” home and from contact isolation for pupils so as to “greatly reduce the impact on schools of Covid outbreaks”.

“And obviously the way forward is with testing rather than by sending the bubbles home,” he added.

There has been widespread concern that thousands of pupils are missing school unnecessarily.

Williamson is expected to say the changes will come into effect on 19 July, alongside the lifting of other Covid restrictions.