Secondary school students in England will be required to wear masks in class and take a quick Covid test twice a week from their home back to school, the government has confirmed

During the students’ first two weeks of return, they will be required to undertake four lateral flow tests, three of which are at the school site and the fourth at home

If a student tests negative on their first test they will be able to stay in school, but if they test positive they will need to go home immediately and isolate themselves

The government made the decision to reopen all schools in England on March 8, however, as it will take time for secondary schools to administer the initial tests, principals at these schools will have the flexibility to take a stepwise approach. to bring their students back

There are currently no plans for primary school students to take the tests

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Education Ministry officials have admitted that getting high school students to take class tests twice a week – and report the correct result – will depend on “confidence”

However, they said that having students take their first three tests in a supervised environment at school would teach them how to self-administer the tests at home. Officials also hope parents will “stand together” for s ‘make sure their children take the test

High school students – as well as those in higher and post-secondary education – will be encouraged to use face masks in all indoor environments, including classrooms, unless a social distance of two meters can be maintained

The DfE said it was a “temporary measure” until Easter and would be kept under review

Speaking in the House of Commons on Monday, Boris Johnson said: “All the evidence shows that classrooms are the best places for our young people and that is why I have always said that schools are the last to close and the first to reopen

“Based on our assessment of the current data against the four tests, I can tell the House that two weeks from today, pupils and students at all schools and from all Higher education institutions can safely resume face-to-face teaching, supported by twice-weekly testing of high school and college students

“Families and babysitting bubbles will also be encouraged to get tested regularly Breakfast and after-school clubs may also reopen and other children’s activities, including sports, may restart if necessary to help parents work “

M’s decision Johnson for taking a ‘big bang’ approach of reopening all schools on the same day has been criticized by education unions

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Dr Mary Bousted, Joint Secretary General of the National Education Union, said: “[Monday’s] announcement that all students will return to English schools on March 8 demonstrates, once again, that Boris Johnson has, despite all his words of caution, has not learned lessons from his previous mistakes

“The reopening of a ‘big bang’ school brings 10 million people back to overcrowded buildings without social distancing and inadequate ventilation,” she said. “Wearing face masks by students and staff in high school tuition is welcome, but not in itself “

Geoff Barton, secretary general of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: “We share the government’s goal of getting all children back to school as soon as possible, but we are concerned about its decision to move forward with a full return March 8 could prove to be counterproductive and lead to further disruption

“It is very difficult to understand why the approach in England is so different from decisions taken in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland for a more cautious and gradual approach to the full reopening of the school, especially since the rate of Covid infection is actually higher in England than in Scotland and Wales “

University students taking hands-on courses, requiring specialized facilities, or completing on-site assessments will also be able to resume face-to-face study on March 8, but those taking other courses will need to continue learning remote

The DfE has announced that it will examine options for timing the return of these students before the end of the Easter holidays

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