New guidelines issued for schools in England

A shopper wears face mask as she passes a key Worker Thank You mural in Leicester city centre in Leicester, Britain. EPA-EFE/NEIL HALL

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“Small groups” of pupils and staff may have to self-isolate for up to 14 days if there is a positive case of coronavirus in a school or college, according to new guidance.

But the Department for Education has said that “where there are two or more confirmed cases in a two-week period, health protection teams may ask a larger number of other children or young people to self-isolate at home as a precautionary measure”.

School leaders in England have also been told there is no need for pupils of any age to sit apart when they return to class in September.

Under the new guidance, self-contained classes or “bubbles” – which cannot mix – will be expanded to allow all children back.

In primary schools, the maximum size of bubbles has been raised from the current level of 15 to 30 children.

The pupils and their teacher must still maintain distance from other classes.

At present, only some students in certain year groups and the children of key workers are at school, depending on the area and set-up.

‘BUBBLES’

Schools will be asked to maintain distinct student groups, known as bubbles, which strive to not mix with pupils in other bubbles. They could be the size of a class or a year group.

This makes it easier to pinpoint who needs to self-isolate if there is a positive case and will keep that number to a minimum, the education ministry said.

Officials acknowledge younger children will not be able to maintain social distancing and that could be challenging for everyone when using shared facilities such as dining halls, toilets and playgrounds.

IN CLASS

Seating arrangements should be changed so pupils are all facing forwards rather than face-to-face.

OUTSIDE THE CLASSROOM

Assemblies involving more than one group of pupils should be avoided. Use of staff rooms will need to be minimised.

STAGGERING START TIMES

Schools should consider asking pupils in different “bubbles” to follow separate start and finish times but break times and free periods may be cut to ensure this does not reduce teaching time.

IF THERE IS A POSITIVE CASE

Small groups of students and staff may need to self-isolate for up to 14 days. If there are two or more cases in a two-week period, a greater number of pupils might have to stay home.

FINES FOR NON-ATTENDANCE

“Unless there is a good reason for absence, then we’d be looking at the fact that we would be imposing fines on families,” education minister Gavin Williamson said on Monday.

Read more via Sky News/ITV News/Reuters

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