Secondary schools to get rapid Covid-19 tests as attendance falls to 80%

15 December 2020, 12:50 | Updated: 15 December 2020, 13:04

Around 9% of secondary school pupils are in isolation for Covid-related reasons
Around 9% of secondary school pupils are in isolation for Covid-related reasons. Picture: PA

By Kate Buck

Every secondary school and college in England will be given access to rapid coronavirus testing from January, as it was announced attendance has dropped by a fifth.

All staff in secondary schools and colleges across the country will be eligible for weekly rapid tests as part of an initial rollout.

Students will also be eligible for daily testing for seven days if they are identified as a close contact of someone who has tested positive.
Pupil attendance in secondary schools dropped from 81% to 80% on December 10, according to the Department for Education (DfE) statistics.

Around 85% of pupils in state schools were in class, down slightly from 86%.

Approximately between 7% and 9% of state school pupils - up to 694,000 children - did not attend school for Covid-19 related reasons on Thursday.

More than a quarter (28%) of schools reported they had one or more pupils self-isolating who were told to do so due to potential contact with a Covid-19 case inside the school, the same as the week before.

Commenting on the new tests which are being rolled out across all secondary schools and colleges across England, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: "It is so important we drive down transmission rates among school age children, so we are rolling out rapid testing in all schools as quickly as possible, and asking everyone offered a test to come forward for a test. 

“About one in three people who have coronavirus have no symptoms and will be spreading it without realising it, rapid regular testing offers a reliable and effective way to keep schools open and children learning.

“It will also help us to identify asymptomatic cases that we otherwise wouldn’t know about, and protect the wider community beyond the school gates.”

More to follow...