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School bubbles to be popped, raising fears for Disabled children

06 July 2021

Covid rules that require whole classes in England to isolate are to be dropped, raising questions about the safety of clinically vulnerable pupils, especially in mainstream schools.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said the ‘bubble’ system which saw whole groups of children needing to isolate if a positive case was found in a class will finish at the end of this school term. 

Teaching unions are calling for a continuation of safety measures in the face of rising cases, and the Health Secretary, Sajid Javid warned that once lockdown measures end, the country could see cases in the 100,000s per day.

Face coverings, social distancing and staggered start and finish times will also be dropped from the start of the autumn term.

DR UK’s Head of Policy Fazilet Hadi said: “There is a balancing act right now between ensuring that pupils are not disadvantaged with too much time off school, and recognising that there is still a substantial population of Disabled children who are clinically vulnerable, who go to school, and need safeguarding.

“Schools are well known for being petri dishes when it comes to this disease. There are 351,000 children with a learning disability in the UK, and well over a million with special educational needs and disability. People with learning disabilities have been at greatly increased risk of Covid throughout the pandemic. A one size fits all ruling on bubbles does not mitigate this significant risk.

“We are seeking urgent clarification from the Education Minister about how schools with pupils known to be clinically extremely vulnerable will be able to safeguard these children, while ensuring they are not academically disadvantaged.”