How Boris Johnson's latest announcement on Covid testing and self-isolation will affect schools, teachers and parents
Coronavirus testing in schools is set to be scaled back following the unveiling of the latest stage of the Prime Minister’s plans for “living with Covid”.
And the government is due to instruct school leaders to reduce the amount of screening they have in place.
Reflecting on the cost of the UK’s testing regime, Boris Johnson told MPs: “We must now scale this back.”
He said: “From today we’re removing the guidance for staff and students in most education and childcare settings to undertake twice weekly asymptomatic testing and from April 1 when winter is over and the virus will spread less easily, we will end free symptomatic and asymptomatic testing for the general public.
“We will continue to provide free symptomatic tests to the oldest age groups and those most vulnerable to Covid and in line with the practice in many other countries, we’re working with retailers to ensure that everyone who wants to can buy a test.”
As well as reduced testing, the Department for Education has confirmed that from today, childcare providers will no longer have to notify Ofsted of confirmed COVID-19 cases among children or staff members.
The end of wide-spread free coronavirus testing and other restrictions has raised alarm bells with many education chiefs.
Paul Whiteman, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, called for “unambiguous guidance” for teachers and parents to following the Prime Minister’s latest announcements.
Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, warned the move could further disrupt children’s education if it led to a rise in classroom infections.
He said: “Staff and pupils are often absent not just because they test positive but because they are actually ill with the coronavirus and this will obviously not abate if there is more transmission.
“We are also concerned about where this leaves vulnerable staff and pupils, or those with a household member who is vulnerable.
“These individuals will inevitably feel more scared and less protected by the relaxation of even the fairly limited control measures that are currently in place.”