Parents have a responsibility to help prevent schools from closing when they reopen next week by regularly testing their children for Covid-19, Gavin Williamson has said.
“School communities still need to follow Covid precautions, especially regular testing for pupils, families and staff. But it is not just a matter for schools,” the education secretary wrote in an article for the Daily Mail newspaper.
“Parents too have a responsibility to make sure that their children are tested regularly.
“I know that there are many things people would rather be doing than testing but it’s really important to make time for it.
“The last thing we want is for schools to partially close again, or for whole classes of pupils to be at home self-isolating. That should only ever be the last resort.”
As schools reopened in March last year, pupils were told to use at-home testing kits and to self-isolate if they tested positive – and the same rules will apply in the new term.
Cases are rising steadily across the UK with fears mounting that there could be a winter wave.
Another block of vaccinations for children aged 12 to 15 is expected to begin around 6 September, though this is yet to be confirmed.
The Joint committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) which will advise the government on whether to go ahead is still assessing the benefits of jabs for the age group.
With schools returning over the next week, pupils will be mixing in classrooms and playgrounds well before a significant portion of them have been vaccinated.