Tuesday, 15 Jun 2021

Race to save June 21: Millions of schoolchildren and families face mass-testing blitz

Sadiq Khan calls for mass testing in schools ready for January

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With schools in England set to reopen tomorrow, education secretary Gavin Williamson has urged students to check if they are clear of the hidden asymptomatic form of covid-19 before returning to their classrooms. It comes as the government tries to ensure that the virus infections do not spike too high to allow the remainder of lockdown measures to be ended on June 21.

Mr Williamson said: “A year ago it was unimaginable to suggest that a testing programme of this scale and impact could be delivered at the speed we have seen, and I am hugely grateful to the families, students and all those working in education for their role in making it happen.

“Asymptomatic testing helps break chains of transmission by taking people who are infectious but don’t know it out of circulation.

“As the half term comes to an end, take a covid test before going back to the classroom.”

So far 50 million tests have been taken by students, their families and teachers along with other school staff.

The government has claimed that regular testing twice a week remains the best way to find the one in three asymptomatic cases of the virus.

Health minister Lord Bethell said: “Rapid testing has underpinned the entire reopening of schools and it’s been a remarkable success that is testament to the herculean efforts of teachers, children and parents playing their part by making a test part of their everyday lives.

“Around one in three people who have covid-19 experience no symptoms and could go under the radar without regular testing. By getting tested multiple times a week, children have shown us that it is possible to keep the things we all love open by quickly identifying outbreaks and taking decisive action.

“As parents gear up to return their children to the classroom tomorrow, I’d urge them all to carry on doing their bit by keeping calm and carrying on testing during the term ahead.”

Covid-related pupil absence has remained consistently low since the start of the summer term, with only approximately 1 percent of pupils absent from state-funded schools for covid-related reasons each day since April 21.

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