Parents in England could be asked to test their children twice a week for Covid at home

Thursday, 18th February 2021, 11:25 am
Updated Thursday, 18th February 2021, 11:25 am
Families will be asked to carry out lateral flow tests at home during term time under plans drawn up by the Government (Photo: ANDY BUCHANAN/AFP via Getty Images)

Parents of secondary school students will be asked to administer Covid-19 tests twice a week, under plans for a phased return to the classroom, The Telegraph has revealed.

According to The Telegraph, families will be asked to carry out lateral flow tests at home during term time under plans drawn up by the Government.

Education unions struck a deal with ministers that states that schools will only oversee the mass testing of secondary students one at the beginning of the term.

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‘A good idea’

The Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), which is the largest union representing secondary heads, previously said that pupils should be given home testing kits rather than forcing schools to become “field hospitals”.

Geoff Barton, the general secretary of the ASCL, 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.”

According to The Telegraph, official from the Department for Education (DfE) will meet with union bosses on Thursday to finalise plans for mass testing secondary school pupils upon their return.

‘Already testing going on in schools’

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Care Minister Helen Whately said: “There is work being done to look at how testing will help schools come back. But there will be more details set out about that next week.”

When asked about the Telegraph’s report that parents of secondary school children will be asked to carry out rapid flow tests during term time, Whately said: “I’m not going to get drawn into that.”

The Care Minister went on to say: “There is work in progress looking at how testing can support schools to come back.

“There’s already testing going on in schools, where you have children of key workers and teachers in schools at the moment, because schools aren’t completely closed, and there is work going on at the moment about the details of the return to schools, and there will be more said about that next week.”

Returning to schools

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said that the Government’s priority lies with getting pupils back into classrooms, with 8 March proposed as the earliest date that this could happen.

At this stage, it is unclear whether all year groups would be able to return at the same time, or whether a more staggered approach would be implemented.

Education sources have told The Telegraph that large secondary schools could take up to two weeks to get all pupils back to school.

Face masks will also be made compulsory for pupils in English secondary schools where social distancing is not possible outside of classroom bubbles.