'Another tool for pandemic fight' - heads welcome testing for families

A pupil and member of staff at Sandringham and West Newton Church of England Primary Academy.

Sandringham and West Newton Church of England Primary Academy - Credit: JAMES BASS PHOTOGRAPHY

Headteachers are looking forward to welcoming back students in the knowledge that extra safety measures are in place. 

All households with primary, secondary school and college age children, as well as childcare and support bubbles, will be encouraged to start regular twice-weekly testing as schools return, the government announced over the weekend.

Tests will be available for adults in these households to collect for free from March 1. 

The government's decision to expand the testing provision as pupils return on March 8 has been welcomed by headteachers. 

Shannon O'Sullivan, headteacher of Thomas Bullock Church of England Primary in Shipdham, said: "Targeting all families with school aged children, including primary schools with voluntary rapid testing, is another firm action towards finding as many cases within our community as possible and stopping the spread quickly within our classrooms.

Shannon O'Sullivan, headteacher of Thomas Bullock Church of England Primary Academy in Shipdham near Dereham

Shannon O'Sullivan, headteacher of Thomas Bullock Church of England Primary Academy in Shipdham - Credit: Submitted

"While initially challenging for families, as a parent of primary aged children myself, I can only welcome any additional effort all families across the UK are doing to contribute to an early end to the unprecedented pandemic and keep our children being taught in our classrooms.”

She added that reaching the expected full school attendance return on March 8 relies on families, especially those living with or supporting clinically vulnerable adults and children, having complete confidence in the safety of the school environment. 

Ryan Freeman, headteacher of Peterhouse Primary in Gorleston, said: "It is fantastic to see yet another tool in the fight against this pandemic. The expansion of testing is another step towards returning to our normal and everyday lives - something we all long for. 

"These rapid tests will give the families of our community and their wider childcare bubbles greater confidence to get their children back to school. It is also good to see that these tests will be optional for primary age children.”

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He added: “However, as a father of young children myself, I know that an invasive and uncomfortable test will not be popular, or easy to administer to five and six year olds.” 

Sprowston Falcon Junior School headteacher Edward Savage said all staff had been using lateral flow tests twice weekly before the government announcement. 

He believes there is "light at the end of the tunnel" after a difficult February with Covid restrictions, remote learning and the snow. 

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