Pupils to face disruption with secondary school term 'delayed'

Pupils are set to face more disruption with start of secondary school term ‘DELAYED for a week’ for millions as heads call in teens for Covid tests

  • Lessons are not expected to start until the second week of term next month 
  • Gavin Williamson, Education Secretary, ditched measures including teaching in small groups or bubbles and requiring students to wear facemasks in class 
  • Survey this weekend shows that many schools will not obey government rules 
  • Masks will be worn by pupils in class in one in eight secondary schools, and a third of schools have said they will take precautions, including outdoor teaching

The start of the new school term for secondary school pupils in England will be delayed by at least a week as heads across the country call students in for on site covid tests.

Lessons in many secondary schools are not expected to start until the second week of term in September after the Department of Education confirmed schools in England will be able to stagger start dates as pupils are tested twice for the virus. 

Close contacts of those found to be infected will be traced and, if they also test positive, will need to self-isolate. 

Assurances made by Gavin Williamson, the education secretary, in July look to have made little impact on schools in England. 

Earlier in the summer, he ditched measures, including teaching in small groups or bubbles and requiring students to wear facemasks. 

Close contacts of those found to be infected will be traced and, if they also test positive, will need to self-isolate.

But, a survey this weekend showed that many schools will not obey government instructions to open as normal without taking measured to curb coronavirus transmission. 

A poll of more than 1,200 senior teaching staff found that nearly one in five schools are planning to stagger the start or end of the school day throughout the autumn/winter term. 

Masks will be worn by pupils in class in one in eight secondary schools, and a third of all schools have said they will take precautions. 

And four per cent said they would take the measure of teaching outdoors.    

In the last week, ministers have tried to reassure schools with measures including promising that classrooms will be fitted with air quality monitors to improve ventilation. 

Families will also be asked to test their children twice weekly until the end of next month, when minister plan to review the policy.   

Assurances made by Gavin Williamson, the education secretary, in July look to have made little impact on schools in England.

Schools may be asked to send home a class or year group as a last resort only if action has been advised by health teams and if the outbreak involves five or more people.        

Geoff Barton, the General Secretary of ASCL, the senior leaders union, told The Times: ‘If you have nine million children going back into school, having been mixing through the summer, you can see the need to test them on site. Logistically it will be challenging. 

‘We thought we could focus on the norm of education and already we have the spectre of disruption. Parents may rightly feel frustrated.’ 

Steve Chalke, chief executive of academy trust Oasis, added: ‘This is all last minute again. 

‘Head teachers have called for months for a way of opening schools and keeping them open to avoid a third year of academic disruption to children.’ 

Oasis will decided next week on whether or not to use facemasks in classrooms from next month.   

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