Military called to assist student mass testing as government dismiss delayed return

Covid-19 Indian variant

Military called to assist student mass testing as government dismiss delayed return

The military is being called in to help secondary schools and colleges with mass coronavirus testing at the start of the spring term.

The government is going ahead with plans for primary school, older secondary school and college students to return in early January, despite scientists claiming a delay is needed if rising infection rates are to be brought under control.

Each secondary school and college in England will be offered the testing, with £78m allocated to support this, the government has stated, adding that schools will be given the kit they need.

In most cases, students will be expected to swab themselves with supervision of a school staff member or a volunteer who has been trained for the role.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said:

“The UK Armed Forces are stepping up once again this holiday”.

“This week I have authorised over a thousand Armed Forces personnel to assist schools returning after the Christmas break”.

Cabinet Office minister, Michael Gove, reportedly told Sky News that for the time being, the government remained committed to its plan of pupils returning from the 4th of January, under a staggered return schedule.

He said:

“Our plan is that primary schools will go back, but with secondary schools it will be the case that next week only children in Year 11 and Year 13 – those who are doing their GCSEs, their BTECs, their A-levels – those will go back”.

Recent studies on the new COVID variant by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine warned that even action similar to November’s second national lockdown across England, in which schools remained open, is “unlikely” to reduce the rate of infection to below one “unless primary schools, secondary schools, and universities are also closed”.

Both London Mayor Sadiq Khan and Conservative mayoral candidate, Shaun Bailey, have called for schools to reopen later than planned in January.

Additionally, the Politico website reported the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE), led by chief scientific adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance, has urged ministers to keep secondary schools closed next month in a bid to curve the rise in infections.

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