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What will be different in schools?

While coronavirus (COVID-19) remains in the community, schools or colleges will have control measures in place to reduce the risk of COVID-19 to provide a full educational experience for children and young people.

These control measures may include:

COVID-19 symptom-free testing 

Rapid testing using Lateral Flow Devices (LFDs) will support the return to face-to-face education by helping to identify people who are infectious but do not have any COVID-19 symptoms. For secondary school staff and pupils, a home testing model will be introduced (for pupils, following the first 3 onsite tests). The lateral flow devices used have received regulatory approval from the MHRA for self-use.

Once pupils have been tested 3 times at school, they will be provided with test kits to self swab and test themselves twice a week at home.

Pupils* must report their result to NHS Test and Trace as soon as the test is completed either online or by telephone as per the instructions in the home test kit. Pupils should also share their result, whether void, positive or negative, with their school to help with contact tracing.

*Pupils aged 18 and over should self-test and report the result, with assistance if needed. Adolescents aged 12 to 17 should self-test and report with adult supervision. The adult may conduct the test if necessary. Children aged 11 attending a secondary school should be tested by an adult.

Testing remains voluntary but strongly encouraged.

Face coverings 

Where pupils in year 7 (which would be children who were aged 11 on 31 August 2020) and above are educated, face coverings should be worn by adults and pupils when moving around the premises, outside of classrooms, such as in corridors and communal areas where social distancing cannot easily be maintained. Face coverings do not need to be worn by pupils when outdoors on the premises.

In addition, where pupils and students in year 7 and above are educated, face coverings should be worn in classrooms and during activities unless social distancing can be maintained. This does not apply in situations where wearing a face covering would impact on the ability to take part in exercise or strenuous activity, for example in PE lessons.

Grouping children together

Consistent groups reduce the risk of transmission by limiting the number of pupils and staff in contact with each other to only those within the group.Maintaining distinct groups or ‘bubbles’ that do not mix makes it quicker and easier in the event of a positive case to identify those who may need to self-isolate and keep that number as small as possible.

Avoiding contact between groups

Groups should be kept apart, meaning that schools will avoid large gatherings such as assemblies or collective worship with more than one group.

When timetabling, groups will be kept apart and movement around the school site kept to a minimum. While passing briefly in the corridor or playground is low risk, schools will avoid creating busy corridors, entrances and exits. Schools may also introduce staggered break times and lunch times.

Arranging classrooms with forward-facing desks

With the teacher at the front of class, and pupils sitting at well-spaced desks, all facing forward.

Measures for arriving at and leaving school

Travel to school patterns differ greatly between schools. Schools or colleges may introduce staggered starts or adjusting start and finish times to keep groups apart as they arrive and leave school. Staggered start and finish times should not reduce the amount of overall teaching time.


Children and young people asked to clean their hands more often than usual, including when they arrive at school or college, when they return from breaks, and before and after eating - this will be done with soap and running water or hand sanitiser.

Frequently touched surfaces will be cleaned more often.

Find more guidance on the government website.