Over 200 schools and colleges had problems getting access to tests

More than 200 schools and colleges have had problems getting access to Covid-19 tests for staff and pupils, headteachers’ union says

  • School and college leaders in England reported issues on test and trace system
  • A union warned the work of reopening is being undermined by testing delays
  • Geoff Barton, ASCL’s general secretary, said headteachers feel ‘utterly let down’
  • It comes after at least three schools closed due to Covid-19 outbreaks this week 

More than 200 schools and colleges have had problems getting access to Covid-19 tests for staff and pupils, a headteachers’ union has said.

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), warned the work of educational institutions reopening to all students is being undermined by testing delays.

Within hours of inviting feedback on the issue in an email to union members on Wednesday afternoon, hundreds of school and college leaders in England reported problems with the test and trace system.

More than 200 schools and colleges have experienced problems with the test and trace system, according to the Association of School and College Leaders (file photo)

Mr Barton said: ‘Having spent the summer working extremely hard to put in place safety measures, school and college leaders feel utterly let down by the fact that within days of term starting it is immediately apparent that there are significant problems in accessing Covid tests.’

He added: ‘Staff and pupils must be able to obtain tests immediately and easily, so that if they are clear of the virus they can return to school as soon as possible, and if they are positive then the appropriate action can be taken to contact and isolate close contacts.

‘If this does not happen the system will come under increasing strain and the health risks will grow.’

The comments follow Professor Chris Witty saying yesterday the Government’s policy on schools may be ‘looked at again’ if the coronavirus crisis deepens.

ASCL’s Geoff Barton warned the work of reopening schools and colleges is being ‘undermined’ by testing delays

It comes after at least three schools closed due to Covid-19 outbreaks this week, while dozens more reported cases.

Hundreds of pupils are being forced to isolate while some schools have sent home large groups of students or delayed reopening.

Professor Whitty was answering a question from a member of the public at the Downing Street press conference, adding that coronavirus rates are ‘still very low’.

But he said if there were to be a change, ‘there were to be a much broader increase in rates including of school age children’, adding: ‘I think the current policies would have to be looked at again’. 

This is despite experts suggesting the virus could be viewed as a ‘disease of old age’ as the risk of under-55s dying is so small. 

One study by Cambridge University found just one in every 2.4million schoolchildren died from coronavirus at the peak of the epidemic, compared to one in every 50 people in their 90’s.

Professor Chris Witty (pictured left) said during a press conference yesterday that the Government’s policy on schools may be ‘looked at again’ if the coronavirus crisis deepens

Researchers calculated that 80-year-olds are 1,000 times more likely to die if they get Covid-19 than 20-year-olds. 

They said the extent to which old people were disproportionately affected was ‘staggering’ and unlike any other known infectious disease.

The death rate among working-age adults is extremely low, which experts said highlights how the damage from lockdown was worse than the disease for most adults.

The analysis, published in the British Medical Journal, looked at the 49,607 coronavirus deaths in the UK over a 16-week period at the height of the epidemic.

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