SCHOOL kids and teachers face imminent changes following Boris Johnson’s Covid crackdown.
While pupils will be forced to follow the new national curbs launching tomorrow they’ll also be affected by bespoke measures targeted at schools.
The Department for Education last night released new guidance for schools to follow for millions of teachers and kids.
Education Sec Nadhim Zahawi said: “The news of a new variant – the so-called Omicron variant – will have understandably caused concern for people across our country, including our teachers, wider education and childcare staff, parents, pupils and students.
“We are already taking targeted and proportionate action as a precaution while we find out more information about the new variant.”
There are fears kids could break up early for the Christmas holidays if the spread in schools gets so bad.
Heads have been told to only send pupils home “as a last resort” but union bosses are calling for ministers to go further.
Pupils, teachers and visitors are all advised to wear masks in communal areas such as common rooms and corridors – but not classrooms.
While it’s only “strongly” advised and not a legal requirement, it goes further than the national compulsion to wear face coverings in shops.
Kids in Year 7 and above should still put on masks on the school bus as has been the advice for some weeks.
🔵 Read our Omicron variant live blog for the latest news & updates
The fresh advice is expected to be followed across the board and has been broadly welcomed by teacher unions.
Paul Whiteman, general secretary of the NAHT union said: “We are pleased the government is taking a precautionary approach.
“It only makes sense for the requirements for face masks in schools to match the rules for the wider population.”
Mary Bousted, general secretary of the NEU, called for ministers to go further by recommending masks be work in classrooms.
While the vast majority of pupils currently don’t have to isolate if they come into contact with an infected person, under tomorrow’s new rules they might have to.
At the moment any Covid contact who is double-vaxxed or under-18 doesn’t have to quarantine, exempting most school kids.
But anyone who comes into contact with a case of Omicron will now have to stay at home for 10 days regardless of their jab status.
Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi said: “We are working with education and childcare settings to enhance safety measures where needed, including introducing isolation for 10 days for close contacts of suspected Omicron cases.”
To prevent the spread of infection in schools the Education Department also encouraged twice-weekly lateral flow tests and hand-washing.
Guidance from the Department for Education released last night urged teachers to reconsider the need for trips abroad.
All arrivals coming back into the UK have to isolate until their day two PCR test comes back negative.
The advice says: “Schools, out of school settings and colleges will want to consider whether to go ahead with planned international educational visits at this time, recognising the risk of disruption to education resulting from the need to isolate and test on arrival back into the UK.”
Teachers were also reminded of new changes to the travel red list that basically bans them from travelling to several southern African nations.
It includes South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Namibia and Zimbabwe.
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