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NEWS: Roadmap out of lockdown in England

Today in England the Government has announced its plan to move the country out of lockdown. The key announcements for early years and childcare are summarised below and PACEY will be sending members in England and Wales a more detailed briefing later this week, once the Prime Minister has made his full statement tonight. The Welsh Government’s plan to lift lockdown began last week, with a phased return to school for children aged three – seven years old from today.

Early years and childcare

  • Early years settings including childminders in England have been open to pre-school children throughout lockdown as well as school age children if they are vulnerable or their parents are critical workers. From the 8 March, providers of wraparound childcare for primary and secondary pupils can resume to enable parents to access work, education or medical care.
  • All staff at private, voluntary and independent nurseries in England will have access to Lateral Flow tests to use twice weekly at home from 22 March, building on the testing already available to maintained nursery schools and school-based nurseries. Childminders in England will continue to have to access community testing.

Other education settings

  • Schools and colleges in England will also reopen to all pupils from 8 March.
  • All primary school children in England will return on Monday 8 March, as staff continue to take two rapid COVID-19 tests each week at home.
  • All secondary school and college students in England will take COVID-19 tests as they return to the classroom from 8 March. Secondary schools and colleges will have discretion on how to stagger the return of their students over that week to allow them to be tested on return. After an initial programme of three tests in school or college, students will be provided with two rapid tests to use each week at home.
  • In Wales it has been announced that home tests will be offered to all students in years 11 to 13 and all FE college learners and learners on work-based Apprenticeship and Traineeship programmes.
  • Secondary school and college staff will also be provided with two tests to use each week at home.
  • Protective measures across education in England will be strengthened. Staff and students in secondary schools and colleges are now advised to wear face coverings in all areas, including classrooms, where social distancing cannot be maintained as a temporary extra measure
  • University students on practical courses in England who need to access specialist facilities and equipment can return to in-person teaching and learning from Monday 8 March. Twice weekly testing will continue to be available for all on campus.
  • For the remaining university students in England, the government will review, by the end of the Easter holidays, the options for timing of their return. This will take account of the latest data and will then be a key part of the wider roadmap steps. Students and institutions will be given a week’s notice ahead of any return.

Public Health England continues to advise that the existing range of safety measures in place in education settings remains appropriate – including bubble groups, staggering start and finish times, increasing ventilation and hygiene, regular testing and maintaining distance between adults where possible. Extending the use of face coverings to classrooms is a temporary measure until Easter, and as with all measures the government will keep it under review.