Tests may spare school bubbles from isolating: Children could avoid disruption to lessons by being screened for Covid more often under new proposal
- Ministers will explore if children could take more tests instead of self-isolating
- Sajid Javid said he was seeking ‘fresh advice’ on the current policy
- The current policy sees up to 250,000 pupils miss school every day
- Children’s Commissioner said they experienced ‘real trauma’ during lockdowns
Ministers will explore whether children could take more Covid tests instead of self-isolating to minimise disruption to their schooling.
Sajid Javid said he was seeking ‘fresh advice’ on the current policy, which sees up to 250,000 pupils miss school every day.
He revealed he would discuss the subject with Education Secretary Gavin Williamson after MPs expressed concerns about children being kept at home for ten days – even after a negative PCR test – because a member of their classroom bubble has been infected.
It came as the Children’s Commissioner told how pupils had experienced ‘real trauma’ during successive lockdowns.
Sajid Javid said he was seeking ‘fresh advice’ on the current policy where children self-isolate, which sees up to 250,000 pupils miss school every day
Dame Rachel de Souza described the class bubble system as ‘very very restrictive’, adding: ‘I think everybody would like it if we could get back to normal, as soon as possible.’
Former health minister Steve Brine told the Commons yesterday: ‘Estimates suggest that a quarter of a million children are missing school today due to precautionary isolations.’ Adding that many became trapped in a cycle of self-isolation ‘due to the bubbles they are caught in’, Mr Brine asked the new Health Secretary: ‘Haven’t our young people suffered enough?
‘Is this not an area – given the availability and reliability of testing now – where we might find that change of policy I’m looking for?’
Mr Javid replied: ‘This is a very important issue and it is something I’ve focused on, on day one of the job. That is why I’ve asked for fresh advice on this.’ Stressing the policy was based on information ‘available at the time’, he continued: ‘Clearly data is changing all the time and we must make sure that we keep that under review.’
Ministers will explore whether children could take more Covid tests instead of self-isolating to minimise disruption to their schooling (stock image)
Mr Javid acknowledged that missing weeks of school would have a ‘huge impact and knock-on effect on education… and that’s something that none of us want to see’. He added: ‘I have already asked for fresh advice for my department and it’s something that I intend to discuss with… the Education Secretary to see what more we can do.’
Of the impact on pupils, Dame Rachel said: ‘All these children going in and out of self-isolation… that is a really big issue, and it’s incredibly frustrating for children and teachers.’
She told The Daily Telegraph: ‘The experience of lockdown has been a real trauma, and I think we shouldn’t underestimate it.
‘Children are really troubled, and it’s right across the board. There is the risk that we just keep saying to ourselves “well, kids are resilient, they’ll bounce back”… well, they are telling us that they have got these worries and we need to listen to them… we need an intensive recovery plan.
‘They have done a huge amount for us, I mean they really were the least at risk of this and they’ve given up weeks of their education, they’ve had all this anxiety and concern and exams cancelled… they’ve taken a big burden for us.’
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