When will the school bubbles end? How self-isolation rules change for under-18s after lockdown eased on July 19

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Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has confirmed the school isolation bubbles will be removed from July 19, alongside the lifting of all remaining lockdown restrictions in England.

Under the previous rules, entire class groups must be sent home for isolation if a student tests positive for Covid-19.

This resulted in the number of children being sent home from school to quadruple – but only 4% of them were confirmed positive cases.

Ministers have come under heavy pressure to abandon the bubble policy over concerns that it will unnecessarily prevent students from going to school, with more than 640,000 children sent home the week before the update. minister.

Mr Williamson told the House of Commons: “Keeping children in cohesive groups was essential to controlling the spread of the virus when our population was less vaccinated.

“We recognize that the system of bubbles and isolation disrupts the education of many children. That is why we will end the bubbles and move contact tracing to the NHS Test and Trace system for early childhood settings, schools and colleges. “

What has changed since July 19?

From July 19, children are only to self-isolate if they test positive for the virus or are told they are close contact by the NHS Test and Trace.

The Education Secretary said: “In educational settings, all other existing measures – including guidelines on contact isolation – will remain in place until the end of this term, in accordance with the isolation rules. for the rest of the population as more vaccinated adults. “

Start and end times will no longer have to be staggered, although Mr Williamson has said schools can continue to do so if they wish.

Self-isolation is changing

From August 16, people who have been fully vaccinated for at least 14 days will no longer have to isolate themselves if they come into contact with a positive Covid-19 case.

Instead, they will be contacted by NHS Test and Trace and asked to take a PCR test. If this test is positive, they should self-isolate.

The same will be true for everyone under 18, meaning that entire classes will no longer have to isolate themselves if a student tests positive.

Anyone who tests positive should always be quarantined for 10 days, regardless of their vaccination status.

Announcing the changes, Health Secretary Sajid Javid said the country “will soon be able to take a risk-based approach that recognizes the enormous benefits of the vaccine.”

“This new approach means we can manage the virus in a manner proportionate to the pandemic while maintaining the freedoms that are so important to all of us,” he said.


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