High schools 'feeling confident' as students mass tested for coronavirus

Mark Barrow, headteacher of Ixworth Free School. Picture: GREGG BROWN

Mark Barrow, chief executive of Seckford Education Trust - Credit: Gregg Brown

High school heads are gearing up to testing hundreds of students for coronavirus this week before they return to class on Monday.

Secondary schools students will be mass tested for Covid-19 in a bid to identify cases before they have a chance to spread and result in an outbreak.

Mark Barrow, chief executive of Seckford Education Trust, which manages high schools in Beccles, Saxmundham and Ixworth, said students' wellbeing would be prioritised in the reopening next week.

He said: "We are putting in place bespoke testing centres in each of our schools. They will be spaces large enough to manage social distancing.

"Our own staff will be administering the testing. We've pushed out as much information to parents as possible so they understand that the testing is quick.

"We feel ready to open and will make changes to the school day to prioritise wellbeing.

"We are feeling confident. Staff and parents have been so understanding.

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"If I say that this has been weeks in the planning that wouldn't be an exaggeration."

Andy Green, principal of Copleston High School in Ipswich, said he would prefer not to use rapid Covid-19 tests - which are not as accurate - but said they were "better than nothing".

Copleston High School principal Andy Green. Picture: COPLESTON HIGH SCHOOL

Copleston High School principal Andy Green. Picture: COPLESTON HIGH SCHOOL - Credit: Archant

He said: "We are testing all of our students this week - we will be doing up to 4,000 tests.

"Our sports centre has been converted into a mass testing centre so that we'll be able to do up to 100 tests an hour. It's been carefully planned.

"I'm feeling confident as the person running it and his team is very capable."

Chantry Academy executive headteacher Craig D'Cunha praised his staff's preparation ahead of testing hundreds of students this week.

Craig D'Cunha, executive headteacher of Chantry Academy in Ipswich

Craig D'Cunha, executive headteacher of Chantry Academy in Ipswich - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

He added: "We are prepared. It's been quite an interesting challenge.

"The benefit for us will be that students will be coming in this week for a test. I have a fantastic team who have had a good long run at testing.

"The biggest challenge has been finding the space and staff. it has cost us more to bring external people in.

"There will be anxiety getting 900 students through this."

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