Rapid Covid tests for London, Essex and Kent schools

Health secretary Matt Hancock says government will take immediate action to test secondary students in these areas
10th December 2020, 5:41pm
Tes Reporter

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Rapid Covid tests for London, Essex and Kent schools

https://www.tes.com/magazine/archived/rapid-covid-tests-london-essex-and-kent-schools
Coronavirus: The Government Is To Carry Out Immediate Covid Testing Of Secondary School Students In Areas Of London, Kent & Essex

Health secretary Matt Hancock has announced that secondary school students in areas of London, Kent and Essex with growing coronavirus rates will have access to immediate testing for the virus.

He told a Downing Street briefing tonight that the government was "particularly concerned about the number of cases in London, Kent and Essex".

Plans have been announced to carry out rapid testing of all secondary school-aged students in the worst-hit areas.


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But headteachers' unions reacted to the announcement by asking why schools are not being moved to online learning. 

Mr Hancock said: "Cases are rising and in many areas are already high.

"Looking into the detail, the testing results and survey show us that by far the fastest rise is among secondary school-age children 11 to 18 years-old, while the rate among adults in London is broadly flat.

Coronavirus: Rise in cases among secondary students

"But we know from experience that a sharp rise in cases in younger people can lead to a rise among more vulnerable age groups later."

Mr Hancock said he "didn't want to pre-empt" any decision that might be made about moving London and parts of the South East of England into Tier 3.  The health secretary said that a formal review take place on Wednesday 16 December.

But on school testing, he said: "We need to do everything we can to stop the spread among school-age children in London right now - we must not wait until the review, which will take place on 16 December. We need to take targeted action immediately."

Providing detail about the testing scheme for school students, Mr Hancock said: "Having spoken to the leaders of London's councils and the mayor, we've decided to put in place an immediate plan for testing all secondary school-aged children in the seven worst-affected boroughs of London, in parts of Essex that border London and parts of Kent.

"We want to keep schools open because that is both right for education and for public health. We are therefore surging mobile testing units and will be working with schools and local authorities to encourage these children and their families to get tested over the coming days.

"More details will be set out tomorrow."

Both the NAHT school leaders' union and the Association of School and College Leaders have questioned why schools are not now moving to remote learning .

The announcement on mass testing came as it was also revealed that all secondary schools and colleges in Wales are moving to online learning from Monday in an effort to reduce Covid transmission.

Wales' education minister, Kirsty Williams, said this afternoon that the decision has been taken as the chief medical officer advised that the public health situation in the country was deteriorating and recommended to move all secondaries and colleges online.

 

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