Worcestershire has welcomed the news that school children will no longer be required to remain in bubbles from the Step 4 date of 19th July.
Subject to a final review of the data this week and confirmation on 12th July, Education Secretary, Gavin Williamson MP has announced that from Step 4 it will no longer be necessary to keep children in consistent groups or bubbles.
This means that bubbles will not need to be used for any summer provision or in schools from the autumn term. Any school still open at Step 4 may wish to continue with these measures until the end of their summer term.
Schools will however be required to update their outbreak management plans to cover the possibility that in some local areas it may become necessary to reintroduce ‘bubbles’ for a temporary period, to reduce mixing between groups but would need to take account of the detrimental impact they can have on the delivery of education.
The Department for Education also announced that from Step 4, face coverings will no longer be advised for pupils, staff and visitors either in classrooms or in communal areas. Face covering will also no longer be recommended to be worn on dedicated transport to school or college and are no longer legally required on public transport.
Face coverings may be recommended as a temporary measure in communal areas or classrooms (by pupils staff and visitors, unless exempt) in the event of an outbreak in an education setting.
Cllr Marcus Hart, Cabinet Member for Education said, “I am very pleased the government is now taking this approach. Whilst it will be effectively the end of term it gives a clear position for all schools to plan for any holiday provision and for the return in September.
“We have seen an increase in the numbers of pupils and staff affected by bubble closures over the last couple of weeks with the latest data showing there are 104 situations where bubbles or partial bubbles have been collapsed in 52 schools in Worcestershire with 4373 pupils and staff affected.
“We all know the disruption that having children off school causes for working parents and if it is safe pupils should be at school and I further welcome the news that protective measures including ensuring good hygiene, maintaining appropriate cleaning regimes and keeping occupied spaces well ventilated will continue in the Autumn term to help maximise attendance and minimise disruption.”