Schools in Wolverhampton are being encouraged to keep pupils in ‘bubbles’ until the end of term to help stop the spread of Covid-19.

The Government announced last week that the school bubble system would be scrapped when the country moves to Step 4 of the road map out of lockdown on Monday (19 July). 

However, with the end of term just a few days later, the City of Wolverhampton Council is asking schools to retain the bubbles until the summer break.

Councillor Dr Michael Hardacre, the City of Wolverhampton Council's Cabinet Member for Education and Skills, said: "The bubble system has an important role to play in limiting the number of people that students and teachers come into contact with during the school day.

"We know that the system hasn't been perfect, with hundreds of children in Wolverhampton having to stay home because of a positive case within their bubbles, but it has played a role in minimising the spread of Covid-19 and stopping entire schools from having to isolate.

“Given the high infection rates among our city's children and young people, and the fact we are so close to the end of term, it makes absolute sense to keep it in place until the summer break.

"At the same time, we are asking schools to continue encouraging the wearing of face coverings, and to retain staggered start and finish times to help with social distancing at the school gates. Parents and carers can do their bit by continuing to wear face coverings and observing social distancing when they are on the school run."

The Government has also announced that, from 16 August, pupils will no longer have to self isolate if they are a close contact of someone who tests positive for coronavirus. Instead, children who are contacted by NHS Track and Trace will be advised to take a PCR test. From the autumn term, teachers who are fully vaccinated can remain in school if a close contact tests positive.

Secondary and college pupils will be required to take two Covid-19 rapid tests on site at the start of the autumn term and continue to take 2 tests a week at home until the end of September, to show that they don't have the virus.

Councillor Hardacre added: "The challenges thrown at our city's schools by Covid-19 have been unprecedented and I'd like to thank everybody for their sterling efforts which has meant, despite rising infection rates, they have been able to continue providing a first class education to our city's children and young people through the summer term."

Latest figures show there were 298.8 new cases of Covid-19 per 100,000 people in Wolverhampton over the last 7 days. That means 786 people in the city tested positive for the virus in that same period – though the true number of new cases will likely be higher.