Mass testing in schools from January to reduce Covid outbreaks

High school student taking notes from book while wearing face mask due to coronavirus emergency. You

Mass testing will be rolled out in secondary schools in North Somerset from January. - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Coronavirus testing will begin in North Somerset’s secondary schools in January to reduce the number of pupils being sent home. 

The Government announced its plans for mass testing yesterday (Tuesday) due to rising infection rates in schools.  

Secondary school, colleges, special schools and alternative provision, will have access to weekly rapid tests from January to help keep staff and students as safe as possible. 

North Somerset Council’s executive member for health, Mike Bell, said: “We are pleased that testing will start to become available for secondary schools from January.  

“We were already working to bring community testing to our schools, following the successful launch of our pilot at Weston College, so these extra resources from government will be very helpful. 

“Our schools have worked extremely hard in North Somerset to make changes that have allowed students to keep attending and have responded quickly to any reported cases of coronavirus to protect their staff, students, and the whole community.  

“Testing is another tool that will help them keep students in the classroom, as this is proven to be the best place for our young people to learn. 

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“We look forward to hearing more details about this announcement and hope that it will complement the testing we are already offering.” 

Any students who have been in contact with a positive case will be offered seven days of daily testing, while teachers can have weekly Covid tests. 

Under current guidelines, up to a whole school bubble has to self-isolate if one student or staff member tests positive.  

From January, those in the same bubble do not need to self-isolate if they agree to be tested once a day. 

Around one in three people have the virus without symptoms and asymptomatic testing will help to identify positive cases more quickly and break chains of transmission. 

Councillor Catherine Gibbons, the authority’s executive member for education, said: “It is so important that children and young people are able to go to school, not only to learn but also to socialise with their peers.  

“Schools are doing so much now to try to compensate for the loss youngsters have had in their lives, unable to mix with their friends at home. 

“I am really pleased testing for education has been prioritised as another measure that will help keep staff and students in school.” 

Public health leaders stressed testing is ‘only one tool’ in the fight against Covid and urged people to continue washing their hands, wearing face masks and keeping 2m apart from anyone not in their household or support bubble. 

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