COVID-19 measures in place for children returning to school have been announced by the county council and will see an end to bubbles and face coverings.

Following government guidance, Hampshire County Council has released information for pre-schools, schools, and colleges to support pupils and students to safely return to face-to-face learning during the autumn term. 

This includes an end to bubbles; face coverings no longer required for pupils and staff in school; and under 18s and fully vaccinated adults no longer needing to self-isolate if they have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for Covid, unless they have Covid symptoms. They should, however, take a PCR test.

Regular asymptomatic testing at home should continue for secondary school pupils and college students, who are encouraged to take a lateral flow test twice a week.

At the start of term, schools will carry out two rapid flow tests on the school premises for each person, after which testing should continue at home.

Councillor Roz Chadd, the county council’s executive lead member for children’s services, said: “We know that children and young people are looking forward to the new academic year and that education staff are eager to start welcoming them back.

“For the autumn term, the priority for the county council and all education settings is to ensure that pupils and students can safely and effectively return to learning in the classroom, in a way that keeps any possible Covid-19 risks to the absolute minimum.

"It has been an especially challenging 18 months for children and young people and we want their lives to return to normal as much as possible.”

The council is also reminding people that anyone aged 16 or 17 can now get vaccinated. Children aged 12 to 15 with underlying health conditions or who live with someone who is clinically vulnerable can also be vaccinated.

Children and young people who are unwell should stay at home, the council advised, even if they do not have Covid symptoms or their Covid test is negative.

Cllr Chadd added: “As restrictions ease it may seem as if coronavirus has gone away, but every action we take to stop the spread still counts.

“I want to encourage people of all ages to do their part by using tissues to catch and bin coughs and sneezes, continuing frequent hand washing, and using twice weekly lateral flow tests if they are eligible.

“If you are a parent or carer of a 16 or 17-year-old, please urge them to take up the jab. Vaccines are safe, effective and vital in helping to limit the spread of the virus."