Parents will be told to test their teenage children for Covid TWICE a week when schools reopen


Parents will be told to test their teenage children for Covid TWICE a week when schools reopen – and pupils will need to wear masks in school corridors

  • The government is expected to launch plan amid phased return to the classroom
  • Education unions have agreed for schools to mass test once – at the start of term
  • It comes amid report secondary pupils will have to wear masks when not in class

Parents will be told to use lateral flow tests to check their children for Covid-19 twice a week when schools reopen, reports say.

The government is expected to launch the plan for secondary school students during term time amid a phased return to the classroom.

Education unions have also agreed with ministers for institutions to mass test on one occasion – at the beginning of term.

It comes as reports said secondary pupils will have to wear masks when they are not in their class ‘bubbles’ once schools reopen.

The government is expected to launch the plan for secondary school students during term time amid a phased return to the classroom (file photo)

The phased return of pupils is expected start from March 8, with some year groups starting later so they can all be tested.

Sources told the Telegraph larger institutions – mostly secondary schools – could need two weeks to check all students.

Teaching unions have previously said the idea of mass testing schoolchildren was ‘inoperable’ and ‘ridiculous’.

The Association of School and College Leaders called for testing kits to be sent home to avoid schools being turned into ‘field hospitals’.

It is understood schools will test students once when they reopen and parents will take over term time testing after.

General secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders Geoff Barton said: ‘We think that is a good idea.

‘It reinforces the responsibility for families rather than assuming that bits of the state, like schools, will carry out the tests.’

He said it would be better for the British Army or PHE to undertake the start of term testing but said teachers would do it for ‘a finite period of time’.

The plans are expected to be ironed out between the Department for Education and unions on Thursday.

Meanwhile secondary pupils will reportedly have to wear masks when not in their class ‘bubbles’ once schools reopen.

Secondary pupils will reportedly have to wear masks when not in their class 'bubbles' once schools reopen (file photo)

Secondary pupils will reportedly have to wear masks when not in their class ‘bubbles’ once schools reopen (file photo)

This could mean face coverings are required while walking between classrooms or at site entrances.

It was previously up to headteachers to decide if they should be worn in indoor areas where social distancing was not possible – but this guidance is set to be scrapped.

Current advice states face coverings are not recommended in schools ‘generally because a system of controls, applicable to all education environments, provides additional mitigating measures’.

The World Health Organisation recommends children aged 12 and older should wear a mask under the same conditions as adults, particularly when they cannot keep at least one metre away from others.

Officials also plan to use mass testing, including three tests per pupil on site before switching to doing them at home, the Guardian reported.

A two-week PR blitz to build parents’ confidence in school safety is also in the works ahead of the unveiling of the road map out of lockdown on Monday.

It is believed the PM wants all year groups back at school from March 8 rather than a drawn-out process of different year groups returning in sequence or the use of a rota system.

Some scientific advisers are concerned about the impact of this ‘big bang’ approach on the infection rate.

But Boris Johnson is thought to be in favour of keeping other controls in place in exchange for the return of schools, even if it does increase overall infection rates.

A source said: ‘Getting pupils in class is the PM’s top priority. We know that will increase infections and we need to move cautiously with everything else.’

However, teaching unions are strongly in favour of a phased return, which is the model being followed by Scotland.

Dr Mary Bousted, joint general-secretary of the National Education Union, said: ‘The huge problem with a ”big bang”, with all pupils back in a one-go approach, is that this gives no opportunity for monitoring the effects of school reopening on the R rate and on community infection.’

The Department for Education was contacted for comment.

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