ASCL comment on rapid Covid testing in schools and colleges

15/12/2020
Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders comments on government plans to roll-out rapid Covid lateral flow tests in schools and colleges.
 
Commenting on government plans to roll-out rapid Covid lateral flow tests in schools and colleges, Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said:

It isn’t perhaps the ideal moment to be announcing a huge mass testing programme when schools and colleges are already under massive pressure on multiple fronts and with only a few days of the autumn term left.

However, leaders would rather know what was on the horizon at the earliest opportunity, and the availability of lateral flow tests does have the potential to be a game-changer over the course of the next term.

Weekly testing should provide an extra level of reassurance to staff, and, crucially, rapid daily tests for pupils and staff who have been in contact with positive Covid cases should reduce the need for self-isolation and the disruption this causes.

It is essential that schools and colleges are properly supported by the government to deliver these programmes.

We need to understand exactly what is expected, and how this will be staffed. The government tells us that reasonable costs will be reimbursed, but its track record on providing financial support is not good, and we will be seeking detailed assurances.

These concerns aside, we very much hope that the availability of rapid tests will help make next term less gruelling than the one that has just passed.”