Primary school teachers begin self-testing for Covid
- Credit: Ian Burt
Mass Covid testing for both teachers and support staff has begun to be rolled out in primary schools with future plans for parents to test children at home.
Under revised rules, the Government has suggested that all primary school teachers be tested for the virus twice a week with what is known as lateral flow tests.
The voluntary tests are designed to detect the virus in people who show no outward symptoms but could be contagious.
Secondary schools and colleges began testing hundreds of pupils as well as staff last week but for primary schools staff started home testing this week.
South Wootton Infant School in King’s Lynn is among those that has seen teachers, support workers, kitchen staff and even the school caretaker self-administering the tests.
Headteacher Joanne Davenport said: “It is voluntary and I have said to staff if they didn’t want to it wasn’t something I could request, but they were all happy to do it.
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“Luckily on this first round of tests everyone was negative.”
The school, which currently has about 40pc of children attending at some point during the week, has previously had two positive cases involving a pupil and a member of staff.
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Staff will now take the tests at home twice a week, three to four days apart, and report the results to the school.
“It’s fairly simple to administer. Obviously the worst part is doing the actual swab because you have to swab your throat and up your nose,” said Miss Davenport.
“It’s not just about reassurance it is about spotting asymptomatic transmission as well. Because a lot of the children, particularly young children in our setting, might be asymptomatic.”
Although teachers and staff have begun testing themselves at home, education secretary Gavin Williamson said it was “not appropriate or right” to ask staff to test pupils for the virus.
The Government is now considering a system which would see parents carry out Covid tests on primary school-aged children from home.
“If we’re testing a child, in essence we’re in a position where we’re also testing a household as well,” he told MPs.
“We’re extending staff testing to primary schools and I would like to see it rolled out to all pupils, that’s my ambition – that’s where I want us to get to.”