As per the Prime Minister’s much-anticipated announcement regarding the Road Out of Lockdown yesterday, school children will be allowed back at school on 8 March 2021.
But they will need to take COVID tests regularly.
Schools will be able to decide for themselves if children can return all at once or in a “phased” manner.
Part of getting kids back to school is that parents will now be responsible for testing children for COVID-19 at home, using COVID-19 Home Testing Kits.
We wrote about this already back in November last year, when some schools were demanding that children be given COVID-19 Home Tests if they experienced any COVID-related symptoms (such as shortness of breath, high temperature, cough).
But the new measure by No. 10 means that the testing will be conducted on a massive scale, with secondary school children being tested as often as twice a week! And they must be tested regardless of whether they exhibit symptoms or not.
To return to school, secondary school and college students will be tested for COVID-19 four times in the first two weeks of the term. After that, they will need to regularly conduct home tests for coronavirus, such as the highly accurate PCR Home Testing Kit.
Primary school kids are not required to take the later home tests.
Last year, the government released guidance for forming school “bubbles” that would allow predesignated groups of students to comingle during break and lunchtimes so as to minimise the spread of the virus should anyone catch it.
As far as we understand, this guidance will still stay in place moving forward.
Part of the government guidance is that books and shared equipment only be used within a certain bubble. If those items are indeed shared across bubbles, then the items must be sanitised.
If students cannot be kept two meters apart in a classroom, then they are required to use face masks. But primary school children are not required to use them.
A suggestion was made for the school to keep a supply of masks, but no commensurate suggestions were made as to how these would be paid for. The same is true for the COVID-19 test kits.
The roadmap to return to schools also states, “Face coverings are now also recommended in early years and primary schools for staff and adult visitors in situations where social distancing between adults is not possible, for example, when moving around in corridors and communal areas.”
Kids can be sent home for having symptoms.
If a child tests positive for coronavirus, then schools must contact “local health protection teams”, who will then trace who the child has been in contact with.
Schools are apparently within their rights to request that the child’s bubble or even the entire school self-isolates as needed.
The headteacher has the right to refuse to accept the child to school if they have symptoms of coronavirus.
Still a long road ahead
But the road to end the lockdown for everyone is still a long way ahead. Although children will be allowed to return to school on 8 March, the Stay-at-Home order will not be lifted until as late as 29 March.
Only in mid-April will people be allowed to move around the country.
It won’t be until April that you can go to the gym again or attend exercise classes, but you won’t be able to watch any movies in the cinema until May or catch a London theatre show until then as well.
Fear not, however, because pubs and restaurants can have outside table service as early as 12 April. Let’s hope it’s warm in April because you’ll only be able to dine in style indoors as of May.
For those of you itching to tie the knot with two hundred guests, I’m afraid you’ll have to wait until 21 June for unlimited guests. You can, however, have 30 guests at a wedding until then. (Does that include caterers? We don’t know.)
Just be glad this isn’t the Middle Ages and that it is perfectly legal to cohabit with your dearly beloved in 2021.
The much-dreaded vaccine passport was floated as a way to allow people to attend stadiums as of May.
If, however, you’re eager to get back to the Algarve for some much-needed sun (who isn’t, by now?), doubt still exists as to when that will be possible. After 21 June, the need to social distance will be reviewed.