Heads' 'frustration' over 'muddled' Covid test advice

Messaging from government has intensified 'complexity' of the situation for schools as they open more widely, say heads

Catherine Lough

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A headteachers' union has criticised the government's "muddled messaging" over lateral flow tests as schools reopened more widely today.

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of the NAHT school leaders' union, said that the government's approach to testing had been "frustrating" for schools.

Earlier today, the government U-turned on its position that students initially testing positive for Covid at home should stay away from school even if a follow-up PCR test comes back negative.

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Overall, the return of most pupils to school had gone smoothly, Mr Whiteman said.

"In primary schools, where all pupils are expected to be back from today, this appears to have gone smoothly," he added. "Teachers and school leaders have gone out of their way to make it a positive return and we are hearing that attendance is high."

Schools reopening: Covid tests 'have added another layer of complexity'

In secondary schools, there has been the "start of a staggered return, as schools rollout mass testing", he said.

"Organising and administering tests has certainly added another layer of complexity to the return and, because of that, not all pupils will be back in the classroom today.

"The government’s muddled messaging about lateral flow tests and PCR tests has added confusion to that complexity, which will be frustrating for schools.

“Above all, school leaders and their teams will be delighted to see so many pupils back in class.

"The government needs to make sure it is doing everything to keep schools as safe as possible, and to make sure they have the resources they need to fully support pupils socially, emotionally and academically. Without doubt, this will require additional funding extending well beyond the current academic year.”

The Department for Education has been contacted for comment.

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author bio

Catherine Lough

Catherine Lough is a reporter at Tes.

Find me on Twitter @CathImogenLough

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