On-site Covid-19 testing set to be launched across South Tyneside as school pupils return to class
Schools across South Tyneside are preparing to welcome back pupils after more than two months of closure to the majority of borough youngsters.
The phased return for secondary students is due to be completed by the end of the week, South Tyneside Council has confirmed, while all primary school pupils are required to return to classrooms on Monday.
The Department for Education has said that secondary schools will have “discretion on how to test students” over the first week back “to enable their return to the classroom”.
On-site Covid testing will also begin on Monday, March 8, with lateral flow tests having been made available to parents and carers, as well as to childcare and support staff.
Each pupil who has consented will be tested three times on site, with a gap of between three to five days separating each nose and throat swab test.
At that point, the student will be given home testing kits to be used twice a week. The same testing approach will apply to school staff.
"Throughout the pandemic we have supported our schools to deliver education safely and we will continue to do so,” said Councillor Moira Smith, Lead Member for Children, Young People and Families.
"While schools have done a tremendous job in delivering education remotely, there is no substitute for learning in the classroom.
"We would encourage parents and carers to continue to follow the guidance around hands, face and space, particularly at the start and end of the school day, so that we can keep our young people and staff as safe as possible."
In addition to the launch of on-site school testing, lateral flow tests are now available for parents and carers, along with childcare, support bubble and associated professionals, such as those operating school transport.
These rapid turnaround tests will be available every day between 1.30pm and 7pm through local testing sites at Jarrow and the Chuter Ede Community Association Centre in South Shields.
Alternatively, the above groups can request kits online to be delivered to their home addresses.
It is currently being advised that primary school pupils should not be tested.