Two schools fear mass testing of pupils is not possible

Syringe

Article by Toby Emes: School bosses fear mass testing pupils may not be "possible or sensible" before children return to the classroom.

Both the Billericay School and Westcliff High School for Girls have raised concerns testing every single pupil may not be feasible before they all arrive through the school gates from next week.

Dr Paul Hayman, headteacher at the Westcliff school, said the rapid Covid tests are not arriving before today, giving staff only up to five days to get students tested.

In a letter to parents, which the Echo has seen, he says he will then decide if a testing facility on site will be "possible or sensible."

 Year 11 and year 13 students will be returning to schools from next week, with all other students coming back from their holidays the week after.

Schools will be remaining open this week for children who are vulnerable and part of a key worker family.

Ahson Mohammed, head at the Billericay School, told parents he is still waiting for the "necessary training, equipment and resources to carry out the mass testing programme."

Mr Mohammed is also urging parents to come forward as volunteers to help test students. He said 20 will be necessary to roll out the testing scheme on a "large scale."

The headteacher added:

"Having carried out our initial internal risk assessment, that in order for the school to develop the personnel capacity required to undertake testing on such a large scale, we are going to require support from the wider school/parental community. If you feel that you are able to volunteer some time over the forthcoming weeks, no clinical experience is needed. Please can we ask that you make contact with the school, ideally via email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Please ensure that your child understands that the lateral flow testing is an additional measure to help protect all in the school and the wider community. It will be introduced alongside the existing measures of social distancing, face coverings and respiratory and tactile hygiene. Please also remind your child about the Tier 4 restrictions and the need to remain in ‘bubbles’ in school, wear face coverings as instructed and regularly clean hands."

Dr Paul Hayman added:

"Much of the information needed to operate this process has not yet arrived. Should we go ahead, then we will be  contacting parents to ask for permission to test your child should they be identified as a  ‘close contact’ of another pupil who has tested positive. It is likely that we will need volunteers to help with this testing, but do not know exact requirements at present. If you would like to help, please can you email in with your availability to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.."

Article by Toby Emes, The Echo