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School bubbles to end – and pupils will only need to self-isolate if test positive from 16 August

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The school bubble system is being scrapped in England in favour of pupils isolating only if they test positive or are contacted by NHS Test and Trace.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has announced pupils will no longer have to self-isolate if the rest of their bubble tests positive for COVID.

“We’re also setting out new rules that mean from the 16 August children will only need to isolate if they have tested positive for Covid-19,” he said.

Hundreds of thousands of school pupils have been required to self-isolate each week as part of the government’s bubble system under which all pupils in a “bubble”, such as a class or year group, have to isolate for 10 days if somebody tests positive.

Each bubble is meant to keep separate from others to minimise the spread of coronavirus and to stop entire schools from having to self-isolate.

However, the system has been heavily criticised by parents and teachers over concerns pupils are missing school unnecessarily.

In June, the number of pupils sent home due to COVID quadrupled, but only about 4% were confirmed cases while the rest were because of a potential contact at school.

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There are concerns pupils’ education and mental health are being harmed by not being in school when they are not ill, with children sometimes coming out of isolation to then have to go back in soon after.

It is also causing issues for parents who have to juggle work and childcare.