In response to the emergence of new variants of Covid-19 around the world, the UK is closing all “travel corridors”. From Monday 18th January, all travellers arriving in the UK must have proof of a negative Covid-19 test taken within the previous 72 hours, and are required to isolate for up to 10 days. There is a full ban on travel from South America. Restrictions will be reviewed in 4 weeks.
The UK vaccination program is ramping up as planned. 3 million people have already received at least 1 vaccination, and it is on track for the 2 million per week target. The program is prioritising the old, vulnerable and critical workers. Children continue to have very low rates of infection and illness, so will not be vaccinated until later in the year, hopefully before the start of the next school year. All of the approved vaccines in the UK have been purchased by the government and are distributed by invitation from the NHS. It is not possible to purchase vaccines privately.
The GCSE and A-level public examinations this summer have been cancelled, but it is not yet clear exactly how students will be assessed. There will be an element of teacher input, but there may also be externally set and marked tests and external moderation of school grading. A DfE consultation will run to the end of January, after which things should be clearer. Cambridge Assessment has confirmed that their examinations including iGCSE, iA, and pre-U will proceed, and in England iGCSE and iA grading will be set to ensure equivalence with the public, teacher-assessed GCSE and A-levels. It is therefore important that students continue to be fully engaged with their schools to ensure they are well prepared for these tests and examinations.