| 27 May 2024, Monday |

School isolation rules in UK could end in autumn

School isolation measures in England could reach a end in fall, amid concerns about the rising number of children who have to quarantine because they are contacts of confirmed cases.

Frustration among parents is building over the disruption to children’s education and their working lives.

Bubbles should end as soon as possible, England’s children’s commissioner told the Telegraph. The new health secretary, Sajid Javid, said he would address the issue.

The Department for Education said that in order to keep as many children in face-to-face education as possible, ministers have written to secondary schools asking them provisionally to prepare to offer on-site testing after the summer break.

Dame Rachel de Souza said there was an urgent need for children to get back to normal as lockdown restrictions had been a “real trauma” for many young people.

She added that the need for children to go in and out of isolation was “a really big issue” and was proving “incredibly frustrating” for pupils and teachers alike.

“With bubbles, I think everybody would like it if we could get back to normal, as soon as possible. Obviously we have to be safe, and we have to take advice, but it’s very very restrictive,” she said.

Asked about the self isolation policy in the Commons on Monday, Mr Javid said it was “having a huge knock-on impact” on children’s education.

He said he had asked the Department for Health and Social Care for “fresh advice” and that he would discuss it with the education secretary “to see what more we can do”.

Figures of 17 June demonstrated that in England alone, 172,000 were self-isolating because of potential contact with a positive pupil in school.

Daily testing as a replacement for self-isolation is being trialed in a small number of secondary schools and colleges.

That pilot scheme will end this week, and ministers are not expected to make a final decision on self isolation until the results have been examined.

But there is a recognition that any change must be announced before the end of term, so it can be implemented after the summer break.