Primary school teachers to self-test for Covid from next week - with plans for parents to test children at home

Thursday, 14th January 2021, 10:44 am
Updated Thursday, 14th January 2021, 11:26 am

Mass Covid testing for both teachers and support staff in primary schools is to be rolled out from next week, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has said.

Primary teachers and support staff will be able to self-administer the tests at home, with the Government providing a £78 million support package to help with the rollout.

The mass rollout of Covid testing for primary school teachers and support staff will begin from 18 January.

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The Education Secretary told a parliamentary select committee that he would eventually like to see mass testing be rolled out “across all education settings”.

Mr Williamson said: “Testing is a really important part of bringing people back into school. It’s an important part of fighting Covid right across the community.

Will primary school children be tested?

Although primary school teachers and staff will soon be able to test themselves for Covid at home, Mr Williamson said it was “not appropriate or right” to ask staff to test pupils for the virus.

In secondary schools, the mass testing of staff and pupils began being rolled out in England last week.

The Government is now considering a system which would see parents carry out Covid tests on primary school-aged children from home.

“If we’re testing a child, in essence we’re in a position where we’re also testing a household as well, “ Mr Williamson said.

“We’re extending staff testing as of next week to primary schools and I would like to see it rolled out to all pupils, that’s my ambition - that’s where I want us to get to."

Susan Acland-Hood, permanent secretary at the Department for Education (DfE), welcomed this consideration.

Ms Acland-Hood told the committee: “Getting to the point where parents can administer the tests at home unlocks the ability to do primary testing on a much greater scale in a way that is more straightforward but also more appropriate.”