Education leaders set the timing for the government's drastic plan to fight coronavirus in schools after guidance was announced at 11:00 p.m. Friday night. Millions of students will be returning to class as early as next week.
Proposals include a 'rota system' that limits the number of students attending secondary school at the same time for local restricted areas, while teachers and students in common areas may be required to wear face covers.
The staggered approach will reduce the number of people students come into contact with and help break the chains of transmission by giving enough time at home for symptoms to show up, the Department of Education (DfE) said.
If a coronavirus case is confirmed, every student in the affected person's class or "bladder" may need to be quarantined for two weeks.
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said any change in school attendance "will always be an absolute last resort," but it was the time of the announcement, just before the bank holiday weekend, that angry school principals.
Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School Leaders, said: “Waiting until Friday evening before most schools return is not the best moment in government.
"Obviously the schools have had no chance at all to include this in their planning and must now rethink the plans they have made."
A “rota system” that limits the number of students attending secondary school at the same time could be used for local exclusion zones
The dramatic plan for schools follows:
- A left-wing union faction starts protests and threatens to boycott the reopening of schools if their safety requirements are not met by Covid
- New school rules have been announced, including avoiding contact sports and sending home all year round if two children get sick
- Matt Hancock is pressuring the school to make sure teachers don't inadvertently spread the coronavirus when teaching in different locations
- The teachers warn the children not to "bully" each other, who has the coolest masks, spit on each other and wear "dirty" face covers
The last-minute guide comes when a study from South Korea suggests that students could pass the virus on for up to three weeks after becoming infected, even if they don't show symptoms.
Professor Carl Heneghan, director of the Center for Evidence-Based Medicine at Oxford University, told BBC Radio Four's Today program that the new guidelines for schools would be "particularly challenging".
He said: “The difficulty for schools is that having a small, limited space with such a large number of children while trying to maintain a measure of social distance will be very challenging.
"There's an idea where if a single child gets an infection, you might have to take out the whole year or the bladder."
“So everyone has to stay vigilant because as soon as you get a case they'll walk in and say, who are your close contacts? You have to go into isolation & # 39 ;.
"Then your parents may need to be isolated so you can see the disorder escalate."
He added, “An important caveat to our future change is that if your child has symptoms they will not go to school.
"In the past there has been a feeling, 'we will give you some Calpol, maybe you can walk in," but there will be a profound change in how parents behave towards their children.
"Because of their working conditions, this will lead to disturbances for the parents. Therefore, employers have to be flexible in all of this, as this leads to disturbances for children, schools, but also for the family."
Mr Williamson said it was "important" for the government and schools to prepare for a worst-case scenario, but the unions rounded the Education Secretary for giving teachers so little time to prepare.
Paul Whiteman, General Secretary of the NAHT School Directors Union, said: “We have been calling on the government to have a Plan B released for several weeks.
"It's finally here, but another late night release is pretty typical of what we've gotten used to."
Meanwhile, Labor Shadow Education Secretary Kate Green said the timing of the guidance was "beggar belief".
She added, "The government's incompetence offends the school principals and teachers who worked so hard over the summer to prepare schools for the return of the children."
The lengthy guidelines stated that schools should base their plans on a four-tier system and that the additional measures for secondary schools should start at the second tier.
It says: “The schools should ideally operate a Rota system, ie the students spend two weeks on site, followed by two weeks at home.
"Schools can, however, opt for a week-long rota (five days on-site followed by nine days at home) if that's necessary to effectively deliver the curriculum."
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said any change in school attendance "will always be an absolute last resort."
The guidelines added: "In all areas of national government intervention, adults and students in schools serving seventh grade students and over should wear face-covering when moving outside of classrooms such as corridors and common areas on the premises, where social distancing is not easy to maintain. "
The DfE said any suspected coronavirus cases must self-isolate and be tested.
It added: "If a case is confirmed, local health officials will work with the school to take appropriate action, including asking all members of a student bubble to isolate themselves and access distance learning for 14 days while other students continue take part."
The guidelines do not apply to primary school children as there is scientific evidence that they "have a limited role in transmission," he added.
All schools remain open at the first level, while levels three and four imply stricter restrictions, e.g. B. the closure of all but students in vulnerable groups or children of key workers.
On the previous Friday, England's deputy chief physician, Dr. Commenting on the subject of face masks for students, Jenny Harries said, “The evidence of face covering is not very strong either way.
"Right now the evidence is pretty stable, but in these closed environments it can be very comforting for children and teachers alike to know that people are taking precautions."
She said the council could change in the future.
The DfE also updated its guidelines on music performance in schools, saying that singing, wind and brass players should not be in choirs or ensembles without large spaces, lots of natural airflow for players and audiences, and "strict social distancing and attenuation".
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