ASCL comment on the government’s ‘Living with Covid’ strategy in schools

Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, comments on Department for Education information sent to schools and colleges today about ‘living with Covid’ plans from 1 April.
“It is frustrating and disappointing that the Department for Education has only now communicated its ‘living with Covid’ plans to schools and colleges 24 hours before this significant change takes place.
“The advice itself confirms the scrapping of free Covid tests for almost all education settings, thus dispensing with one of the few remaining mitigations against transmission of the virus. This comes at a time when there are very high levels of staff and pupil absence in many schools and colleges caused by Covid.
“Abandoning free testing in this context, and with public exams looming, makes absolutely no sense at all.
“The guidance then goes on to advise that children who test positive after 1 April should isolate for three days. Not only is this confusing because free testing will have been withdrawn, but there is no explanation about the basis for this change to the isolation period.
“The most likely outcome of all of this is that there will be more cases and more transmission in schools and colleges with more disruption including among students taking exams. It is a shambles.”