14 July 2021| | 2 min read
Families reassured of a cautious approach following Step 4 roadmap changes
Schools in Newcastle will keep Covid measures in place for the final week of term to help minimise the risk of illness, isolation and holiday disruption for staff and families.
Under Step 4 of the government’s roadmap out of lockdown, national guidance to schools states that class bubbles are no longer required from July 19.
However, where schools have not yet broken up for summer, they can choose to keep bubbles and other measures, such as staggered start and finish times, in place for the rest of term.
And while face coverings will be encouraged but not compulsory on school and public transport from July 19, they will still be required in school for secondary aged pupils during the final week of term in the way they are now.
Newcastle City Council and the city’s Public Health team have advised schools to keep these measures in place in order to continue to protect pupils, staff and their families.
Parents and carers are being advised however that from Monday 19 July, schools will no longer be responsible for identifying close contacts of someone who has tested positive and notifying them to isolate.
That responsibility will switch to NHS Test and Trace and means schools will not close bubbles or send close contacts home to isolate during the final week of term. Anyone who is identified as a close contact and who needs to isolate will instead be contacted by NHS Test and Trace.
Cllr Paula Holland, cabinet member for education and skills at Newcastle City Council, said: “We want to reassure parents and carers that we are continuing to do everything we can to support schools in keeping pupils, staff and their families safe.
“In line with the national guidance and with Public Health advice, we are encouraging schools to keep existing bubbles and other measures in place for the rest of term.
“We’re so close to the summer holidays and the last thing anyone wants is for someone in their household to be unwell or for their holiday plans to be disrupted.
“Therefore, and with cases rising in the city and the wider region, it is only right that we maintain the careful and cautious approach that schools are already taking.
“What will change are rules on telling close contacts that they need to isolate and so we are also making parents and carers aware that from 19 July it will be NHS Test and Trace, rather than their child’s school, that will contact them if required.”
Schools will be contacting parents and carers directly to confirm the arrangements in place and anyone who has any questions or concerns are advised to get in touch with their child’s school.