Whilst the children have just broken up for the Christmas holidays, we are already looking forward to what we can expect in January. This term has been challenging for many – students, parents and school staff alike.

The current guidance from the government centres on voluntary testing of students as they return to school. “Secondary-age pupils are being prioritised for testing” in response to concerns around the spreading of COVID-19 in the Autumn/Winter term. Primary schools will return as normal. All pupils will be back in school by 11th January at the latest.

Key things to be aware of:

Testing is voluntary – Pupils and students should be encouraged to have a test where possible, but it is recognised that testing may not be feasible for some children and young people.

All pupils and students will be expected to attend their setting from 11 January regardless of whether a test has been undertaken (unless they are self-isolating because they have tested positive for coronavirus, have symptoms or have been advised to isolate by NHS Test and Trace).

With regards to attendance, the advice for settings is: 

  • All specialist settings and alternative provision settings with secondary-aged pupils should plan for full-time on-site provision for all pupils in the first week of term. 
    • In mixed-age settings, only secondary-aged pupils and students should be offered a test. We are prioritising these age groups due to older children and young adults having higher rates of COVID-19.  
  • Mainstream secondary schools should prepare for a staggered start back to planned on-site provision in the first week of term to allow for all pupils to be tested ahead of normal schooling resuming. This should involve: 
    • Full-time on-site provision from the first day of term in the week commencing 4 Jan for all vulnerable children and young people (including those with EHC plans), the children of critical workers, and pupils in years 11 and 13. 
    • Priority for testing should be given to the groups listed above and the workforce.  
    • Remote education being provided for all other pupils when they are at home. 
  • FE providers, including sixth form colleges, general FE providers and special post-16 institutions, should plan for a phased start back to on-site provision during the first week of term to allow for student testing ahead of normal education resuming. This should include: 
    • usual timetabled on-site provision from the first day of term for vulnerable young people, including those with an EHC plan, and other priority groups. 
  • Early years and primary schools (including primary aged children in specialist settings) should re-open as planned from their advertised first day of term and allow all pupils to attend for full-time on-site provision.  

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