Safety mitigations to keep children, young people and staff safe in schools will be extended until at least the October holidays.
Education Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville confirmed that all current mitigations, including the use of face coverings by pupils in secondary school classrooms, will still be required to help keep schools as safe as possible.
In addition, updated guidance will be provided in the information letters that schools are asked to send to staff and the parents of primary and secondary pupils when they are in low risk contact with positive cases in schools.
These will now include a strengthened recommendation to take a lateral flow test before returning to school. This is in addition to current advice for staff and secondary pupils to take a lateral flow test twice a week, with a few days apart, and record the result before returning to the classroom.
There will be a continued requirement for staff to keep at least a metre distance from each other and from children and young people when they are at schools.
Revised guidance to reflect these changes will be published as soon as possible.
Ms Somerville said:
“Throughout this coronavirus pandemic, the safety of school pupils and staff has been my top priority. Every decision is underpinned by our determination to keep children and young people in schools when is safe to do so.
“In light of the latest data and evidence, we have decided to extend the period for these mitigations to remain in place. This decision has been informed by expert medical advice and will be kept under close review to ensure it remains appropriate.
“We owe a debt of gratitude to our young people, for their continued compliance with the public health measures that keep us all safe. I promise that if we can remove the restrictions sooner, we will. For the moment though, we consider this an important protection for them, and for others in the school.”