Back to school checklist – everything you need to remember

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Heading back to school can be an anxious time for many – but with the coronavirus pandemic causing havoc to normal school routines, this year is likely to be more anxiety-inducing than ever before. However, following a few simple steps listed below may help to quell fears and help parents and students feel prepared for the new school year.

The summer break has almost finished and parents and pupils are now readying themselves for the new school year.

Typically getting back to school involves a number of familiar tasks from buying school uniforms to undertaking the annual stationery shop for new supplies.

But this year, pupils across the country are preparing to return to school in a new reality.

With coronavirus cases on the rise, there are a number of extra considerations parents and students must consider before they consider themselves ready for the new school year.

Covid rules have changed massively over the past year in response to the rising and falling rates of coronavirus.

Experts from within the Government and outside have said the return of school pupils to education providers will inevitably lead to a rise in cases.

In a document from the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling, Operational sub-group, experts said the vaccine rollout – which currently extends only one dose to 16-year-olds and above – will have made “almost no difference” to many pupils.

Despite this, the bubble system which was in place during the 2020/2021 school year caused havoc and therefore has mostly been scrapped for the upcoming year.

Going forwards, classroom and school year bubbles will no longer exist – meaning entire groups will no longer be forced to self-isolate because of a single Covid case.

Assemblies will also be able to return and restrictions on mixing during break times have also been lifted because social distancing rules are no longer in force.

In Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland, there is still an emphasis on social distancing where possible.

English schools, however, are being asked to be prepared to reintroduce bubbles if necessary.

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The UK Government is calling on parents, secondary school students and college pupils to undertake voluntary Covid testing on a regular basis.

Britons are entitled to claim free rapid lateral flow tests which should be carried out regularly to catch the infection early on – even when someone is completely asymptomatic.

England’s Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has said the easing of restrictions and the return of schooling which is “closer to normality” is welcome.

But Mr Williamson warned parents and children not to “throw caution to the wind” and encouraged pupils to take a Covid test twice a week.

Face masks are also no longer required for pupils on-site, although some schools have opted to retain this requirement so it is best to check with your child’s school directly.

Speaking about the back to school return, the Education Secretary said: “I know the return to school and college this September is a huge moment for students and education staff, who have all shown enormous resilience over the past 18 months.

“It is the point when our focus can shift away from the disruption of covid and on to learning, enrichment and recovery.

“I have every confidence that school and college staff, parents and students will continue to work together admirably, following pragmatic measures like testing and vaccinations to minimise disruption and keep children where they belong – in the classroom.”

Chief Executive of the UK Health Security Agency Jenny Harries said: “Around one in three people who have coronavirus have no symptoms, so it is vital that we continue rapid testing in schools to help uncover hidden cases of the virus at the start of term.

“We encourage children to come into school to take their first tests in-person and then to continue testing twice a week from home.

“We will continue to work closely with schools to ensure that all children can get back to the classroom and enjoy learning with less interruptions.

“We also encourage all children eligible for the vaccine to get their jabs when offered.

“Alongside testing, this will help to keep children in the classroom and their families safe.”

Wiltshire Council released a checklist of tasks for returning pupils in a bid to keep staff, students and their families safe:

Ensure your child packs a face covering if they are aged 11 and over for travelling on school transport – the Government recommends people still wear face coverings in crowded places and school transport will be one of those.

If your child is in secondary school be ready for your child to take two lateral flow tests the first few days of term – your school will advise you of the start of the school day and how this will work in your school.

If your child is aged 16 or over encourage them to have the vaccine. More detail on vaccines for 16 to 17 year olds is on the government website.

Ensure your child stays at home if they have Covid symptoms and book a PCR test. High temperature, loss of taste and smell and continuous coughing are all signs. As the parents or guardian of the child you will be contacted directly by NHS Test and Trace to establish likely contacts. Just as you would with any illness, do still inform the school.

Take note of how your school will operate from the autumn term. Each school will have measures in place to ensure they can continue to provide schooling safely. They will give you the latest information on this.

Encourage your child to keep safe. We can all help each other by regularly washing hands, socially distancing and wearing face coverings in busy places such as school buses to help the fight against Covid.

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