Public Health England
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Schools and colleges reopened yesterday as part of Step One of the roadmap

Step One of the roadmap began yesterday with pupils returning to face-to-face education.

The Prime Minister hailed the collective efforts of the public to bring infection rates down so we can start Step One of the roadmap, with pupils across England now back at school and college as of yesterday.

Throughout the pandemic, the Prime Minister and Chief Medical Officer have been clear of the benefits that being in school brings to the physical and mental health of children and young people. Getting children back to face to face education has remained the national priority throughout lockdown.

The sacrifices that have been made by each and every member of the public by staying at home whilst the most vulnerable in our society have been vaccinated, has meant that we can now begin the cautious easing of restrictions. Millions of children and young people were reunited with their friends and teachers yesterday, schools returned.

Many secondary schools and colleges have already started inviting students for their first rapid lateral flow test, with schools and colleges having discretion on how to stagger the return of their students over the next week to facilitate testing and their safe return to the classroom. After three initial tests on-site students will be provided with two rapid tests to use each week at home.

Nearly 57 million lateral flow tests have already been delivered to schools and colleges across the country. Over 5 million lateral flow tests have been conducted across education settings during lockdown, with nearly one million last week alone.

Prime Minister, Boris Johnson recently said:

The reopening of schools marks a truly national effort to beat this virus. It is because of the determination of every person in this country that we can start moving closer to a sense of normality – and it is right that getting our young people back into the classroom is the first step.

We are being cautious in our approach so that we do not undo the progress we have made so far and I urge you all not to give up on your efforts to keep your families and others safe. Get the vaccine, get tested, and remember that we are all in this together.

The government has confirmed twice-weekly testing using lateral flow tests will be given for free to all adults in households with primary, secondary school and college-aged children and young people, including childcare and support bubbles, to help find more Covid-19 cases and break chains of transmission. One in three people who have coronavirus have no symptoms and will be spreading it without realising it, so rapid regular testing offers a reliable and effective additional tool to help keep schools safe. Twice-weekly testing will also be offered to adults working in the wider school community, including bus drivers and after school club leaders.

As we move towards a more normal way of life, testing will be a key part of continuing to protect loved ones and the community. As the Health Secretary set out earlier this week, our roadmap is built on the principle of replacing the protection that comes from lockdown with the protection that comes from vaccines and regular testing.

Lateral flow testing detects cases quickly – in under 30 minutes – meaning positive cases can isolate immediately. This could be the difference between finding and isolating cases and their close contacts, or a whole school being sent home due to an outbreak. It could also be the difference between a workplace having to close for a period, or being able to stay open and running.

Secondary school and college students are also being asked to wear face coverings wherever social distancing cannot be maintained as an additional safety measure through to Easter.

Click here for the full press release


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