The DfE "possible arrangements for testing in September" scarcely qualify as a plan at all.

Commenting on an email to schools and colleges from the Department for Education indicating possible arrangements for testing in September, as well as general speculation on the future of bubbles and self-isolating, Kevin Courtney, Joint General Secretary of the National Education Union, said:

"With its letter about September, the Department for Education is once again jumping to half-explained ideas with absolutely no consideration of the logistical challenge facing schools and colleges. This shows every indication of our having to endure yet another summer of confusion and disarray, capped off by last-minute guidance with inadequate time for preparations. This is no Plan A, or Plan B. Currently it scarcely qualifies as a plan at all.

"With so much of the adult population vaccinated, the desire to return to normal is completely understandable. The fast-rising case counts amongst young people demonstrate, however, that we are not there yet.

"It is important that the data from the recently concluded study of daily testing of contacts as opposed to isolation of close contacts is published quickly and is open to scientific scrutiny; this must happen before any decision is made.

"We should hope for the best - that vaccination of adults solves the problem - but plan for the worst, considering the options around mass testing, vaccination of secondary students, and improvements in ventilation for example.

"Gavin Williamson is missing in action. He has nothing to say about ventilation or reinstating masks in classrooms, which are surely the measures he can quickly bring about. He has also allowed mass testing to dwindle amongst secondary children from 60% in March to just 15% today.

"We all want to see children in school as much as possible and for as long as possible. The Education Secretary must get a grip on this, and for once engage with the complexity from the outset.  To not do so will yet again waste the time of professionals he purports to value."

ENDS

2021-113-NEU

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