Covid: Secondary teachers tested weekly from January

Every secondary school in England will have access to rapid coronavirus tests from next month, DfE says
15th December 2020, 12:20pm
Amy Gibbons

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Covid: Secondary teachers tested weekly from January

https://www.tes.com/magazine/archived/covid-secondary-teachers-tested-weekly-january
Teacher In School During Covid Crisis

Secondary school teachers will be tested weekly for Covid-19 from January, the government has announced.

The Department for Education (DfE) said today that every secondary school in England, as well as special schools and alternative provision, will have access to rapid coronavirus tests from next month "to help keep staff and students as safe as possible and in education".

As part of the initiative, all secondary staff will be eligible for weekly tests.


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And staff and students will be tested daily for seven days if they are identified as a close contact of someone who has tested positive.

This means those in the same bubble as a positive case will not need to self-isolate, if they agree to the daily testing, the DfE said.

The lateral flow test kits will begin arriving at secondary schools from the first week of January.

The department said consent will be given in all cases by staff members, student, and parents, as appropriate.

And close contacts of positive cases who do not want to take part in daily testing will still be allowed to self-isolate.

The DfE said there is "no expectation" that staff will need to work on the initiative over the Christmas break.

"Existing staff meetings or inset days can be used for training as appropriate for each individual setting," the department said.

Guidance, training materials and webinars will shortly be made available to schools "so they can start to use the new testing capacity as soon as possible", the DfE added.

Schools will also be supplied with the "necessary equipment and materials" for testing and will be reimbursed for "reasonable administrative costs" such as staff time.

Primary schools will then be supported to administer the tests "as quickly as possible over the spring term".

Susan Hopkins, senior medical adviser to PHE and NHS Test and Trace, said: "Lateral flow devices are a vital additional tool in helping us detect Covid-19 cases that we wouldn't otherwise know about, meaning that we can break chains of transmission and save lives.

"In schools these tests can help make students and staff safer by helping us quickly identify many people who are unknowingly carrying high levels of the virus, preventing them from passing it on to others."

Education secretary Gavin Williamson said: "This huge expansion of rapid testing for those working in education is a milestone moment in our work to keep schools and colleges open for all.

"I know it has taken a phenomenal effort from everyone to ensure approximately 99 per cent of schools have been open each week since the start of term.

"Testing on this scale brings real benefits to education, it means more children, teachers and staff can stay in their classes in schools and colleges without the need to self-isolate."

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