School staff and pupil Covid testing ramps up ahead of reopening hopes

Student carrying out coronavirus test.

Although the majority of students are learning from home, secondary schools and colleges have begun to ramp up the roll-out rigorous testing programmes. - Credit: PA

Coronavirus testing of school staff and pupils is ramping up ahead of their potential reopening in March.

Norfolk County Council has supported arrangements for secondary schools, colleges and primary schools to receive their testing kits and essential PPE, providing guidance and support on the government requirements.

Covid testing of secondary school students.

Voluntary Covid testing of all secondary school students will begin on their return. - Credit: PA

Primary school teachers and support staff have already begun to self-administer lateral flow tests at home twice a week.

The national programme for rapid testing introduced in all schools around the country has also started running successfully in a number of Norfolk secondary schools, including Framingham Earl High School, the Hewett Academy and Notre Dame in Norwich. 

John Fisher, cabinet member for childrens services. Picture: Norfolk County Council

John Fisher, cabinet member for childrens services. Picture: Norfolk County Council - Credit: Archant

John Fisher, the county council's cabinet member for children's services, said: “The additional testing is intended to help break transmission by identifying people who are positive for Covid-19 without displaying typical symptoms.

“Testing is a really important part of bringing children back into school, it’s also a really important part of not just making schools as safe as possible but actually fighting Covid.

“It’s also crucial we all keep sticking to the rules, which means no indoor socialising outside of your household and bubble.”

Antony Little, executive principal of Hewett Academy in Norwich, helping oversee coronavirus testing of pupils and staff.

Antony Little, executive principal of Hewett Academy in Norwich, helping oversee coronavirus testing of pupils and staff. - Credit: Inspiration Trust

Under the new process, staff are tested twice a week and students tested twice on their return to school, at an interval of three to five days, to maximise the effectiveness of the lateral flow swab test in detecting positive cases.


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Becky Arnold, headteacher of Framingham Earl High School, said she is confident that school testing is the only way to curb the silent spread among staff and pupils.

“Currently at Framingham Earl we are completing between 100 and 200 tests per week for our students and staff who are in school,” she said.

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“We have been operating our testing centre since January 4 and it has been a real team effort to make this a success.”

Brian Conway. Picture: Denise Bradley

Brian Conway, chief executive of St John the Baptist Catholic MAT - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2017

Brian Conway, chief executive of St John the Baptist Catholic multi-academy trust, which includes Notre Dame High School, said: “We believe we can test the whole school community once schools get the green light to reopen, as we have created an environment where students and staff can be mass tested, potentially up to 400 per day. 

“Ultimately this will reduce the potential for infection in our school community and enable as many students and staff as possible to return when schools fully reopen.”

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