School bubbles likely to be scrapped for start of new academic year as Government looks to change Covid rules
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has said he expects children “would not be facing” bubble arrangements when the new school year begins in September.
Mr Williamson was responding in the House of Commons after he was asked about whether the bubble system and self-isolation rules will return in the autumn.
He said: “I don’t want to be pre-empting the decision of cross-Government in terms of the next stage but our direction is very clear about lifting the restrictions and ensuring that children are not in the situation where they have to bubble – it’s very much part of the course of this road map – and we will be very much expecting that children would not be facing that in September.”
The minister said the Government would be “sticking to the principle that children’s education and freedom comes first” as society reopens, with a balance to be struck between safeguarding learning and reducing the transmission of Covid-19.
He is in discussions with Health Secretary Sajid Javid and working with scientists and public health experts over the next steps.
He said: “I do not think it is acceptable that children should face greater restrictions over and above those of wider society especially since they have given up so much to keep older generations safe over the last 18 months.
“Further steps will be taken to reduce the number of children who have to self-isolate including looking at the outcomes of a daily contact testing trial as we consider a new model for keeping children in schools and colleges.
“We constantly assess all available data and we expect to be able to confirm plans to lift restrictions and bubbles as part of Step 4.
"Once that decision has been made we will issue guidance immediately to schools.”
Shadow education secretary Kate Green said “school leaders dread another last-minute announcement” and need time to put plans in place, with just nine weeks to go until the start of the new academic year.
She shared data issued yesterday, Tuesday, June 29, showing 375,000 children were out of school last week because of coronavirus.