Pupils are returning to the classroom this week to a relaxation of Covid-19 safety measures.

Pupils in County Durham and Darlington returned to school on Wednesday with others throughout the North East returning next week. 

New changes will affect a lot of day-to-day life for pupils from PPE to Covid bubbles and self-isolation.

But headteachers’ unions have warned that fewer mitigations this term could lead to rising infections among school-aged children, with one leader suggesting it is a “case of hit and hope” from the Government.

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Schools and colleges in England no longer have to keep pupils in year group “bubbles” to reduce mixing, and face coverings are no longer advised.

Children do not have to isolate if they come into contact with a positive case of Covid-19.

Instead, they will need to get a PCR test and isolate only if positive.

But all secondary school pupils are being invited to take two lateral flow device tests at school – three to five days apart – in England on their return to class.

Secondary schools and colleges are allowed to stagger the return of pupils across the first week to manage the Covid-19 asymptomatic testing process.

The NHS is preparing to ensure it is ready to potentially offer Covid-19 vaccines to all 12 to 15-year-olds in England from early September, although a decision has yet to be taken about this age group.

Schools and colleges in England are still being encouraged to maintain increased hygiene and ventilation this term, and secondary school and college pupils have been asked to continue to test twice weekly at home.

The Northern Echo: A student carries out a Covid test in front of a mirrorA student carries out a Covid test in front of a mirror

Self-isolation in schools

Pupils under the age of 18 who are identified as a close contact to anyone who has tested positive for coronavirus will no longer automatically be forced to self-isolate.

Instead, PCR tests will be used to determine whether it is safe for them to remain in classrooms among their peers.

Positive Covid tests

The NHS Test and Trace system will contact any pupil who has tested positive for the virus.

Close contacts will then be told to self-isolate, however this only applies to close contacts who are over the age of 18 and haven’t been double jabbed.

Children who are displaying symptoms will be told to self-isolate, too.

READ MORE: Care home staff risk losing job without Covid vaccination

Face masks in schools

Face masks will no longer be mandatory however it will be up to the school to decide whether they will put their own rules in place.

Social distancing in schools

As of July 19 (Freedom Day) social distancing is no longer required.

Bubbles in schools

Bubbles are no more, much to the relief of mums and dads everywhere.

The Northern Echo:

Self-testing in schools

Secondary school pupils will be asked to self-test for coronavirus twice a week.

Returning secondary school pupils are being urged to get tested – and vaccinated where possible – to stop coronavirus spreading and minimise disruption to lessons over the autumn term.

Ministers are launching a campaign, backed by an Olympic champion and a TV doctor, to persuade parents, secondary school and college students to take part in voluntary asymptomatic Covid-19 testing.

PPE in schools

Good hygiene, ventilation and regular testing will be encouraged.

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