We are Engage• 3 Min read

3rd March 2021

Schools Reopening on 8th March 2021

It’s fantastic to be able to say there is finally a firm date for schools reopening. For many teachers it’s the chance to get back to the practical teaching they love and for pupils, a return to active, varied and social learning. In this article, we’ll cover key information about the return to school for all teaching staff and pupils in the UK. 

UK School Reopening Date

Primary and Secondary schools in the UK are set to reopen on March 8th 2021. Headteachers have been given discretion to stagger the start of term for individual year groups to allow for the new testing requirements to be facilitated. Many pupils won’t have been inside a classroom for nearly 8 weeks and are itching to get back to a more normal social life. The announcement also included the restarting of after school sports and activities from the 8th of March – just the time for outdoor sports!

Mass Testing In Schools

Testing is vital in schools because it allows everyone in the school community to return to work and education with the knowledge that they will not be posing a risk to their loved ones. The ability to isolate asymptomatic cases has been an important tool in the fight against COVID-19.  While vaccines offer us the best chance of a full return to normality, testing is likely to remain part of school life for a while. 

The current testing guidelines are different for primary and secondary education:


  • Primary school staff will be provided with 2 rapid COVID-19 tests each week to take at home
  • Primary school students should be tested if they are in direct contact with a teacher who has tested positive


  • Pupils must take three COVID tests in school from 8th of March 
  • After the initial testing period, all secondary school pupils will be offered two tests per week to take at home 

Anyone who obtains a positive result will be required to isolate at home for ten days. In this way, it will be possible to rapidly identify and isolate asymptomatic cases and significantly reduce the risk of COVID-19 in school environments.

Masks In Schools

The Department For Education recently recommended that face coverings be worn in all indoor premises. This is a change to the guidance earlier in the year, which allowed pupils to remove face coverings in classrooms. As of the reopening date, masks will be compulsory in all classroom settings as well as corridors, communal areas and transportation to and from school for anyone over the age of 12, including teachers and support staff.

It’s important to remember that there are many reasons why an individual may be exempt from wearing a face covering, find out more about exemptions here.

COVID Safety In Schools

Most schools will already have a robust COVID policy and have put significant resources into creating a COVID-secure environment for their staff and pupils. It’s vital that teachers make themselves fully familiar with the COVID policies provided by their employer – speak to your Engage consultant if you have any concerns.

All teachers are expected to follow the relevant COVID-safety guidelines for their area, including quarantining if you are travelling to teach in the UK from abroad. Read our update on the current situation for teachers coming from abroad if you are considering a move.

We hope this has helped break down the most important elements for teachers to know before the 8th March. Throughout the pandemic, we’ve done everything we can to support the needs of our teachers, staff and schools. We’ve navigated changing regulations and worked to ensure we are providing the most relevant and useful information to our global network of teachers. We’ll continue to work alongside schools, sourcing outstanding staff  and providing continued wellbeing support and professional development to all of our teachers across the UK.

Don’t forget to follow us on twitter for the latest updates and back-to-school buzz.

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