School Bubbles Could Be Scrapped on July 19th, Says Gavin Williamson

Education Secretary Gavin Williams says he expects to announce the scrapping of the school bubble system as part of the end of lockdown on July 19th. The Government is facing pressure from schools and parents alike (and, more recently, from the media), with Anne-Marie Trevelyan, the Business Minister, saying this morning: “My postbag has quite a lot of frustrated parents wondering why the whole class has been sent home.” Sky News has more.

Speaking in the House of Commons, Mr Williamson said he wanted to see restrictions on schools and colleges – including the bubble system – removed “as quickly as possible along with wider restrictions in society”.

“I do not think it is acceptable that children should face greater restrictions over and above those of wider society especially since they have given up so much to keep older generations safe over the last 18 months,” he added.

“Further steps will be taken to reduce the number of children who have to self-isolate, including looking at the outcomes of a daily contact testing trial, as we consider a new model for keeping children in schools and colleges.” …

Trials have recently been held on using daily contact testing for children as an alternative to an entire school bubble made up of a class or even whole year group having to self-isolate if one of their number is infected.

Mr Williamson said ministers were expecting a report from Public Health England on those trials “in the coming weeks”.

But the Education Secretary signalled changes to coronavirus measures for schools would not come prior to the end of the summer term. …

Asked if children would not have to return to bubbles in the autumn, Mr Williamson later replied: “I don’t want to be pre-empting the decision of cross-Government in terms of the next stage. …

“[But] will be very much expecting that children would not be facing that in September.”

Worth reading in full.

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