Schools and colleges will be allowed to begin the mass testing of students from next week, the government has said.
In an email sent to heads this afternoon, the Department for Education (DfE) said testing can begin in the week prior to wider reopenings on 8 March, so long as students "maintain social distance" and go home after they receive their test result.
However all testing will be "voluntary" and "at the discretion of each school or college", the department said.
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The email stated: "A number of schools and colleges have asked whether they can start testing pupils and students the week before Monday 8 March to help manage the flow of pupils and students through on-site assisted test sites (ATS).
"Schools and colleges may start testing students and pupils before Monday 8 March if they would like to do so. This is voluntary and at the discretion of each school or college.
"Asymptomatic testing is an important tool for helping to break the chains of transmission of the virus and so students and pupils may go to school or college specifically for a test before Monday 8 March if their school or college offers to test them.
"Students must maintain social distance and must go home after their test result if the test is before Monday 8 March."