From August 16, children in England will only need to self-isolate if they have tested positive for Covid-19, a practice which will continue into the new academic year according to current guidance. We take a look at the latest research that underpins this decision which will put an end to mass absences in schools in the new academic year.
Research by the University of Oxford involved 200 secondary schools and colleges across England who trialled daily Covid-19 testing as an alternative to the current 10-day contact isolation policy. The study analysed data from more than 200,000 students and 20,000 staff between April and June 2021. One group followed the national guidance of quarantining contacts of positive cases for 10 days, and the other allowed contacts to take rapid lateral flow tests daily at school for over a week instead of isolation.
Results showed that only a small percentage (1.5-1.6 per cent) of pupils and staff tested positive for Covid-19 after close contact with a case in school or college. In addition, the study found that there was no difference in transmission rates between the two groups and that the transmission rate amongst staff was lower than that of pupils. The significance of these findings means fewer mass absences from school with the reassurance of staff and pupils still feeling as safe as is possible. Not only will it reduce the impact on pupils’ education but also on their mental health which has become of growing concern according to latest findings.
Pupils, school staff and their families have been encouraged to carry out lateral flow tests twice per week throughout the summer break. On the September return, schools will carry out lateral flow tests with all pupils twice during the first week of term to reduce transmission rates.
Guidance can be subject to change so keep checking government websites for updates.