After witnessing the repercussions of shutting down schools last year, the education secretary said this morning it was his ‘top responsibility’ to ensure schools remained open amid the current wave of Omicron.
The two new regulations imposed for secondary school-going children include thewearing of masks in classes, along with testing on-site before classes commence.
Test at home twice a week
Children returning to secondary schools in England this week will be tested on-site at least once before being urged to test bi-weekly at home for the foreseeable future.
In an open letter, the Secretary of State for Education, Nadhim Zahawi said teaching 'remotely' will be acceptable 'if operational challenges caused by workforce shortages make delivery of face-to-face teaching impossible.'
This news comes ahead of the education secretary announcing that schools have been given permission to keep students at home and resort to virtual learning if they have an 'impossible' shortage of school teachers.
Deliberating Plan B
As of today, the cumulative coronavirus cases in the UK are 13.2 million, with the death toll being 149,000. Despite the grim statistics, the government has not yet made a decision on whether or not to roll out Plan B measures, which could introduce work from home orders, the mandatory use of masks, and vaccine passports.
Health Secretary, Sajid Javid said:
We’ve said all along that we’ve got Plan A, and that’s where we firmly are at the moment. If we needed to take further measures with Plan B then we would do so, but we're not at that point.
Ministers are renewing their effort to double-vaccinate 12 to 15 year olds as part of the back-to-school programme. Booster doses are now available to all 16 and 17 year olds, and ministers will 'strongly encourage them to take up this offer when invited to do so.'