The Department for Education has asked for "rapid" new public health advice about its controversial Covid school testing plan, a minister has admitted today.
Children's minister Vicky Ford told MPs that the department has asked for updated advice from both NHS Test and Trace and Public Health England about daily contact Covid testing in schools.
It comes amid mounting controversy about the DfE instructing secondary schools and colleges to carry out daily tests of close contacts of a confirmed Covid-19 case for seven days and to keep people in school while ever they test negative.
This has proven to be controversial because of concerns that the lateral flow tests will provide false negatives, resulting in people with Covid remaining in school.
During education questions in Parliament today, Ms Ford said the DfE has asked NHS test and Trace and PHE "to provide rapid updated public health advice on daily contact Covid testing in schools. This is in the context of the current prevalence of the virus and in the high transmission rates".
She added: "The department, NHS test and trace and PHE encourage the weekly testing of all staff although this remains a voluntary matter for individual staff members."
Her comments come as new figures seen by Tes suggest the majority of schools using rapid lateral-flow Covid tests have not detected a single case of the virus.
Early findings from 24 schools where around 2,000 students have been tested show that just five cases of the coronavirus were found in pupils across five different schools.
The figures come from the WorthLess campaign group of head teachers.