Many teachers have raised concerns that the government’s plan to mass test secondary schools will be a “nightmare” as it may fail to catch asymptomatic carriers of the virus and will also give students a “false sense of security”.
With schools confirmed to reopen from the 8th March, millions of students are expected to take three COVID-19 tests as they return to the classroom at school testing facilities. After the initial three in-school tests, students will then be provided with home tests twice weekly. Staff will also be provided with two home tests each week.
However, there is some scepticism around the efficacy of the tests. According to the NEU teachers’ union many school leaders are “entirely unconvinced” that lateral flow tests are accurate enough to pick up positive cases amongst asymptomatic students because young people usually have lower viral loads than adults.
Logistical issues are also a concern for many teachers who feel that mass testing will be time consuming and pointless. For the average secondary school, that has approximately a thousand students, it could easily take up to two to three weeks to fully carry out all testing.
Many teachers also fear that students will not take the rules seriously if given a false negative result. Protective measures such as social distancing and hand washing may also dwindle as false confidence arises. Students may also fail to adhere to the twice weekly home testing, and it may be difficult for schools to enforce compliance.
Additionally, as a temporary extra measure, staff and students are advised to wear face coverings in all areas where social distancing cannot be maintained. Only time will tell if the government’s plan is effective enough to keep the virus under control within schools.