Testing of secondary pupils

Regular testing of secondary pupils will be a “game-changer” in giving confidence that schools are safe, a government science adviser has said.

Professor Calum Semple told the BBC better ventilation and face masks would also contribute to a safe reopening in England from 8 March.

Rates of infection in schools had been “quite low”, he said.

Prof Semple said that a detailed examination into how teachers caught the virus suggested that they were more likely to be infected by another adult in the staffroom than by a pupil in class.

Professor Semple

“It’s the interaction with other adults which poses the greater risk. Like doctors and nurses, they have to be just as careful in the coffee room and canteen as they are in the workplace environment of the classroom,” he said.

Pupils are required to be given three initial tests at school or college before moving to home testing. There is no testing planned for primary school pupils.

Confusion over the rules governing face coverings in classrooms is in danger of creating “mask anarchy” in schools in England, a leading Conservative has warned.

The wearing of masks in classrooms and repeat Covid testing for secondary pupils are key new measures designed to give parents, pupils and teachers confidence when schools fully reopen next week, but that appears to have been undermined when the school standards minister, Nick Gibb, told TV interviewers last week it was not compulsory.

Nick Gibb, Credit: Tes

The chair of the education committee told the Commons on Monday: “Given that the schools minister said that the wearing of masks by pupils on the school estate is advisory guidance, if a pupil or a parent on behalf of a pupil objects to comply with the wishes of a head teacher to wear a mask, are we not in danger of creating mask anarchy?”


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