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Parents 'to be asked to test children' for Covid under school reopening plans
18 February 2021, 14:12 | Updated: 18 February 2021, 14:16
Parents will be asked to "test children for Covid-19 twice a week" under plans to reopen schools in England in the coming weeks.
They will use rapid lateral flow tests to determine whether it is safe for their children to return to the classroom, according to reports in the Daily Telegraph.
It is reported that secondary schools will only be expected to perform a single round of mass testing in the first week of term - despite previous plans to make teachers carry out regular testing of their pupils.
Teaching unions are believed to have a struck a deal with ministers over the issue after claiming it was an unreasonable demand when announced in December last year.
Data shows that although infection rates have fallen significantly, children are now the group spreading the virus most widely.
But experts researching the impact of reopening schools on infection rates do not expect a surge in Covid-19 cases, suggesting they did not drive the epidemic in previous waves but "reflect the epidemic around them".
Professor Mark Woolhouse told MPs yesterday there had never been a surge in cases following the reopening of schools across western Europe despite concerns from several inner-city schools that chose to close their doors in early December.
Meanwhile, new figures suggest lockdown measures are driving down infection levels but the overall rate and community transmission remains high.
Research carried out across Europe in early February indicates that Covid-19 infections remained high but had dropped to just one in 200 people testing positive - compared to one in 50 in the UK last month.
The findings from Imperial College London's React study show that infections in England declined markedly from January into February.
As numbers continue to fall the Prime Minister is coming under increasing pressure from his backbench MPs to begin easing lockdown measures.
He will set out plans for lifting restrictions, including the reopening of schools in England, on Monday, with March 8 hinted as the earliest possible date.