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Back to school: Covid testing to be available for families as well as children

Families of school-age children in England to get two Covid tests per person per week, available from 1st March

As children prepare to return to the classroom next week, families and households in England with school and college age children will be able to get two rapid Covid tests per week, the Government announced on Sunday.

The lateral flow tests will be available to collect from 500 locations across England, local testing sites or through workplaces. The tests can then be carried out at home.

The latest announcement forms part of the Government’s efforts to get children fully back to school amid concerns that not only their education, but their wellbeing is suffering in lockdown.

The measure is designed to pick up asymptomatic cases and keep schools safe.

Under the government’s mass testing scheme, secondary school and college students will take three Covid tests in school commencing on their return from 8th March.

Each individual school or college will be able to determine how to implement the procedures.

Following the three tests, students will be given two rapid tests per week to use at home, as will members of staff.

Primary school children will not be given tests in school, but staff will take two rapid tests per week at home.

The government stresses, however, that younger children displaying symptoms will still need to come forward to be tested.  

Face coverings are being encouraged for secondary school and college students and staff in classrooms and where social distancing cannot be maintained. This is a temporary measure until Easter and will be kept under review.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said:

“We are getting all children back in the classroom from 8 March, because it will bring huge benefits to their education and wellbeing, and is a hugely important step in helping them recover from the impact of the pandemic.

“Testing family members will provide yet another layer of reassurance to parents and education staff that schools are as safe as possible, building on the massive increase in testing for secondary school and college students, and strengthened requirements around face coverings in areas where social distancing cannot be maintained.”

Valerie Moody MBE, National Education Liaison Officer for the Showmen’s Guild, told World’s Fair:

“Anything that makes our families safer and allows children to go back to school in a safe environment has to be a good thing.

“Children need to be in school, they need to be with their peers. They’ve lost so much time that returning to school has to be a priority now.

“Even the younger children are suffering. Many in education have real concerns about their wellbeing – being at home and not able to be with friends is not the norm.

“Face coverings for secondary and college age children must be a good thing. I was pleased to hear young people say they are quite happy to take tests every week and to take personal responsibility for wearing face coverings so they can get back into school.

“I am sure many parents in our community will want to have these rapid lateral flow tests to keep their families safe and so we can get back to some kind of normality.”

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