Children will no longer have to leave school or nursery if identified as a direct contact of someone with covid from Wednesday, the Government has announced after what was described as a "dramatic" drop in cases.
Explaining that 20 cases had been picked up out of 15,000 school lateral flow tests, Children and Education Minister Deputy Scott Wickenden said that music, dance and drama performances would also now be able to go ahead.
Under the new track and trace process for children, pupils identified as a direct contact will be asked to take a PCR test within three days if identified as a direct contact, so that if their appointment is within the school day, parents can call to rearrange rather than have their child get tested straight away.
They will also asked to do lateral flow tests at home for 10 days, and providing they are negative, they can continue to attend school and nursery as normal.
Pictured: Children will not have to be sent home if they are a direct contact, instead being asked to complete a PCR test within three days.
Primary school children who are indirect contacts will also be asked to do 10 days of lateral flow testing, but will not be required to take a PCR test - this will not apply to secondary schools.
Secondary school attendance steadily dropped from the start of the new academic year, going from 96.1% on 7 September down to 86.3% by 1 October. However, in the past week, rates have increased again, sitting at 91.2% as of 8 October.
Primary school attendance went from 96.5% at the start of the new term to a low of 92.2% by 28 September - again, these have seen an increase in the past week, now standing at 94.6% as of last Friday.
Deputy Scott Wickenden said: “When schools returned last month, I gave an assurance that the measures we had put in place would be reviewed within four weeks, with an aim to further relax restrictions and move closer to normality, if case numbers allowed.
“I am pleased to announce that case numbers for children, within schools and nurseries, have remained low over the past four weeks with a daily average in single figures. This is a dramatic drop in case numbers compared to the end of term in July.
“Where we have seen some evidence of spread within a class or school, prompt reactive measures have been implemented to mitigate this and stop the spread.”
Pictured: Children's Minister Deputy Scott Wickenden said that there had been a "dramatic" drop in cases over the past four weeks.
He continued: “The current process causes lost education time for students and disruption for parents and carers and businesses, as parents have to leave work at short notice to collect their children and stay at home with them until a negative PCR result is received.
“The new process, which will come into force from Wednesday, means that children, identified as a direct contact, will not be required to leave school or nursery immediately to take a PCR test unless they are symptomatic.”
He added: “I am also delighted to announce that school performances, which are an integral part of school life and education, giving children and young people opportunities to participate in activities such as music, dance and drama, can go ahead.
“This will commence immediately in secondary schools and we are asking all those participating in a school production to sign up to the lateral flow test screening programme and adhere to new guidance.
“I will continue to monitor case numbers in primary schools and should these carry on remaining low it is my intention to enable school performances and rehearsals to commence again in primary schools after half term.”
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