Carry on with mass Covid testing, DfE tells schools

New guidance sent late last night says schools should continue with plan to carry out regular testing of staff

John Roberts

Coronavirus: Schools are offering up their facilities as vaccination 'hubs', to ensure that all teachers get the vaccine by mid-February

Schools have been told to continue with plans to introduce regular Covid testing despite being closed to most pupils during a new national lockdown.

Guidance from the Department for Education, which was sent to schools late last night, says the programme should continue to allow for weekly testing of staff and any close contacts of Covid cases who are attending school.

Secondary schools and colleges had been gearing up to deliver a massive Covid testing programme from next week, with millions of lateral flow test kits being sent out to schools this week.

Covid: Fears over the reliability of coronavirus test kits for schools

Mass testing: Secondary schools asked to test pupils twice at the start of term 

School safety: Contacts will be tested for seven days rather than being sent home to self-isolate

The testing regime underpinned the government's plan to ensure that schools could reopen this term but caused major controversy after being dropped on schools at the very end of last term.

Coronavirus: The rollout of mass testing in schools

However, prime minister Boris Johnson announced last night that schools are moving online for most pupils in a new national lockdown because of concerns that the NHS will not be able to cope with the continuing rise in Covid cases. 

An email sent to schools last night, seen by Tes, says the tests will continue.

The new guidance says: "The coronavirus (Covid-19) testing programme should be continued to enable weekly testing for staff and daily close contact testing for those staff and pupils attending secondary schools and colleges.

"This programme also allows schools and colleges to test pupils on return."

Register to continue reading for free

It only takes a moment and you'll get access to more news, plus courses, jobs and teaching resources tailored to you

John Roberts

John Roberts

John Roberts is North of England reporter for Tes

Find me on Twitter @JohnGRoberts

Latest stories

Revisions Coronavirus and schools: LIVE 26/2

Coronavirus and schools: LIVE 26/2

A one-stop shop for teachers who want to know what impact the ongoing pandemic will have on their working lives.
Tes Reporter 26 Feb 2021
Covid in schools, GCSEs 2021, teacher safety: LIVE

Coronavirus and schools: LIVE 25/2

A one-stop shop for teachers who want to know what impact the ongoing pandemic will have on their working lives.
Tes Reporter 25 Feb 2021