Secondary schools encouraged to take part in asymptomatic testing

Kingston Council’s Director for Public Health has sent out letters to all of the borough’s secondary schools inviting parents and their children to access asymptomatic coronavirus tests.

Director for Public Health Iona Lidington wrote to schools on December 17 informing them about asymptomatic testing in the borough, expected to be available in December.

A spokesperson for the council said: “Families were invited to book the asymptomatic testing through the national website for testing at national test sites.”

They added: “Some schools were also offered the opportunity to access an additional testing location at Kingston University in the week commencing December 20.”

It is also understood that some schools have recommended that students and staff take a test a few days before returning to school in the New Year.

While it will not be compulsory to produce evidence of negative test results, it is hoped people will agree to a test to limit disruption to learning in January.

Surrey Comet: Director of Public Heath at Kingston Council, Iona Lidington. Credit: Kingston CouncilDirector of Public Heath at Kingston Council, Iona Lidington. Credit: Kingston Council

At present the Government’s plan is for primary schools and secondary school exam years to go back on January 4 – and the rest of secondary pupils to return on January 11.

However, the rapid spread of the new strain of coronavirus in London and the South East is putting this into doubt.

On Monday, the National Education Union called for online learning for the first two weeks of the Spring term except for key workers and vulnerable children to reduce cases amongst students and get testing set up. 

It also wanted Directors of Public Health to set up a testing system to be in place that would enable all children to be tested prior to a return to person-to-person teaching, and for the two week period from January 4 to be used to begin vaccinating education staff alongside NHS and Care staff.

Surrey Comet | Kingston