How long will Covid testing in schools continue for?

Covid-19 rapid testing centres targeting people who unwittingly have the virus are to open in Haverhill and Lowestoft

Rapid Covid tests have been taking place in schools, but it has not been made clear how long for. - Credit: Suffolk Resilience Forum

With pupils having returned to the classroom from the third coronavirus lockdown last week, questions have now turned to the future of Covid-secure teaching and how long testing measures will be in place in schools.

When the government laid out its roadmap for the unlocking of the country from restrictions, the return of pupils from March 8 was confirmed as the first step.

That was on the basis that schools had Covid-secure measures such as facemasks, spaced out desks and hand sanitiser stations remaining in place.

Another element introduced was the twice-weekly testing of secondary pupils, while family members of both primary and secondary pupils are also being encouraged to get rapid-result tests twice a week.

However, the government roadmap did not outline how long that would be in place for, meaning families have been left uncertain as to how long this must continue.

The Department for Education has said that measures in school will be reviewed over the Easter holidays, as that will have allowed some time for measures to bed-in and see if the impact of the return to school on Covid-19 rates is a little clearer.

Mobile coronavirus testing centres have been put in place across the county. Picture: SARAH LUCY BRO

Parents are encouraged to go to a rapid Covid test centre twice a week - Credit: Archant

However, a spokeswoman from the DfE said that while measures will be reviewed at Easter, that doesn't necessarily mean school testing will cease after the spring break - even if case numbers are low.

What it means is that analysis will help inform school testing going forward.

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Even then, It is not yet clear if that means a timeline for when school testing can cease will be issued or whether it will just continue until another future review.

Pressure will likely mount over the coming weeks for the government to give more of a steer on how it intends to negotiate that.