As pupils will have potentially mixed with lots of other people during the summer holidays, the Government says that all secondary school pupils should take 2 on-site rapid Covid-19 tests, 3 to 5 days apart, on their return to school for the autumn term.
Schools can begin testing 3 working days before the start of term, staggering the return of pupils to manage this. Pupils are then expected to continue to take a rapid Covid-19 test twice a week – either at home or in school if they are unable to do it at home – until at least the end of September, when this policy will be reviewed.
Meanwhile, all school staff – primary and secondary – should undertake twice weekly home tests until the end of September, when the policy will also be reviewed.
16 and 17 year olds are also urged to get the first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine before the start of term, if they can, while the Government says that face coverings should continue to be worn in enclosed and crowded spaces, such as on public and school transport.
Councillor Dr Michael Hardacre, the City of Wolverhampton Council's Cabinet Member for Education and Skills, said: "Being out of education causes significant harm to pupils’ educational attainment and life chances and to their mental and physical health, and so we must maximise the number of children and young people in face-to-face education and minimise any disruption to their learning.
"Covid-19 hasn't gone away and over one thousand people in Wolverhampton tested positive last week alone. We need to do all we can to keep the virus out of the classroom and ensure our schools can continue to deliver high quality education to all pupils – as they have worked tirelessly to do over the last 18 months.
“Around 1 in 3 people who have coronavirus have no symptoms and rapid testing in schools will help uncover hidden cases of the virus at the start of term. I would urge our schools and families to give this their full support and ensure that it is happening.”
Staff and pupils who return a positive rapid test result will need to self-isolate and book a PCR test. If the PCR test is taken within 2 days of the positive rapid test and is negative, they can return to school, as long as they don’t have any symptoms of Covid-19.
People are not required to self-isolate if they live in the same household as, or a a close contact of, someone with Covid-19, if they are below the age of 18 and a half, or are fully vaccinated or cannot have the vaccine for medical reasons. Instead, they will be contacted by NHS Test and Trace and advised to take a PCR test.
Councillor Hardacre added: “While the benefit of education significantly outweighs the health risk that Covid-19 presents to children and young people, understandably some parents and carers may need reassurance about their return to the classroom.
“Our schools will continue to have a range of steps in place to limit the spread of Covid-19, not just regular testing of the school population but also improved ventilation and hygiene measures, to help keep children and staff safe.”
For more information about the return to school, please visit Back to School.
Latest figures show there were 389.6 new cases of Covid-19 per 100,000 people in Wolverhampton over the last 7 days. That means 1,025 people tested positive for the virus in that same period – though the true number of new cases will likely be higher.