Test pupils twice a week 'to avoid a new wave', ministers urge

School pupils should be tested for Covid TWICE a week when term starts ‘to avoid a new wave’, say ministers

  • Official campaign stresses all secondary schools must keep up regular testing
  • Pupils in Year 7 and over will have two lateral flow tests, three to five days apart
  • Ministers are today launching advertising drive aimed at parents and teenagers 

Parents must make their children take Covid tests twice a week this coming term to stop another wave ripping through schools, say ministers.

A new Government campaign stresses that all secondary schools must keep up regular testing or risk another winter of chaos.

Pupils in Year 7 and over will have two lateral flow tests at school, three to five days apart, and afterwards should test at home twice weekly. 

But the system will rely largely on trust, with no feasible way for schools to check on each pupil every week.

Ministers are today launching a major advertising drive aimed at parents and teenagers, urging them to do their duty.

Parents must make their children take Covid tests twice a week this coming term to stop another wave ripping through schools, say ministers 

Fronting the campaign are Dr Ranj Singh, star of ITV’s This Morning, and Olympian swimmer Matt Richards.

Jenny Harries, head of the UK Health Security Agency, said: ‘It is vital that we continue rapid testing in schools to help uncover hidden cases of the virus at the start of term. 

‘We encourage children to come into school to take their first tests in person and then to continue testing twice a week from home.’

Health Secretary Sajid Javid added: ‘I urge parents to encourage their children to take regular tests, to help break chains of transmission and stop the virus spreading.’

There are fears the virus could take off again when schools go back over the next two weeks. 

The bubble system, which saw whole year groups sent home for one positive case, has been scrapped and face masks are no longer mandatory.

A new Government campaign stresses that all secondary schools must keep up regular testing or risk another winter of chaos

Ministers desperately need the new testing regime to work so emerging cases can be picked up quickly.

However, the Left-wing National Education Union has derided the campaign, which includes radio and social media advertising.

Joint general secretary Kevin Courtney said: ‘This charm offensive from the Government to parents relies on the notion that the removal of safety requirements will magically transform school and college life.

‘The school community constitutes millions of people and we must expect cases to start to rise when schools return, especially when mitigations have been removed.’

Pupils in Year 7 and over will have two lateral flow tests at school, three to five days apart, and afterwards should test at home twice weekly

Students aged 16 and 17, as well as those aged 12 to 15 in certain vulnerable groups, are encouraged to take up the offer of the vaccine.

There will also be ‘proportionate’ measures in place, such as ventilation and hand-washing. The Government has also given £25million to schools for carbon dioxide monitors, helping them identify poor ventilation.

And schools can re-introduce their own measures, such as face coverings – but they should last for a ‘defined period’ and should not have a ‘detrimental impact’.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said: ‘I have every confidence that school and college staff, parents and students will continue to work together admirably, following pragmatic measures like testing and vaccinations to minimise disruption.’

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