All schools and colleges in England will reopen to all pupils from Monday 8 March, the prime minister has confirmed, with the following measures in place:
- All primary school children will return on Monday 8 March. Primary school staff will continue to take two rapid COVID-19 tests each week at home.
- All returning secondary school and college students will take three COVID-19 tests on site from the 8 March at existing school testing facilities. Schools and colleges will have discretion on how to test students over that week to enable their return to the classroom. After three Covid tests in secondary school and one home test, there will be twice-weekly tests carried out by parents and carers at home.
- Secondary school and college staff will also be provided with two tests to use each week at home.
- University students on practical courses who need to access specialist facilities and equipment can return to in-person teaching and learning from Monday 8 March. Twice weekly testing will continue to be available for all on campus.
Commenting on the announcement, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said:
“I know this is a moment that students and parents up and down the country have been waiting for, and I would like to take this opportunity to give my thanks to all education and childcare staff and parents who have worked so hard to make sure students have continued to receive a high-quality education throughout this lockdown.
“The testing of staff and students ahead of their return to secondary schools and colleges, alongside strengthened safety measures, should reassure families and education staff that extra measures are in place alongside the existing bubble system, enhanced hygiene and COVID secure precautions.
“We are all well aware that being back in school or college brings huge benefits to young people’s education, development and wellbeing. The classroom is the very best place for education and the return of face-to-face teaching for all pupils will be a welcome move for pupils and parents across the country.”
Wraparound childcare for primary and secondary pupils will resume from Monday 8 March where necessary to enable parents to access work, education or medical care.
When schools and colleges reopen from 8 March, staff and students in secondary schools and colleges are being advised to wear face masks in all areas, including classrooms, where social distancing cannot be maintained, as a temporary extra measure. Public Health England continues to advise that the existing range of safety measures in place in education settings remains appropriate – including bubble groups, staggering start and finish times, increasing ventilation and hygiene, regular testing and maintaining distance between adults where possible.
Teachers should continue to be sensitive to the additional needs of their students, such as deafness, in deciding whether it is appropriate to wear a face covering. Also, the government has said that testing sites already set up in secondary schools and colleges are to remain operational for students who find it difficult to test themselves at home.
For the remaining university students, the government has said it will review, by the end of the Easter holidays, the options for timing of their return. This will take account of the latest data and will then be a key part of the wider roadmap steps. Students and institutions will be given a week’s notice ahead of any return.
All staff at private, voluntary and independent nurseries will have access to tests to use twice weekly at home, building on the testing already available to maintained nursery schools and school-based nurseries. Childminders can continue to access community testing, and the Department for Education (DfE) has said it will continue to work with colleagues across government to review the testing approach available for childminders.