Friday, July 19

Most schools struggling to access tests, PM warned



Nearly every school in the country is struggling to access tests for students and staff, headteachers have warned the Prime Minister.

School leaders have written to Boris Johnson to tell of their “mounting concern” about delays in accessing test results and advice from public health officials as they urge him to take personal control of the situation.

They said that 96 per cent of schools experiencing difficulties and delays in accessing tests for students and staff, which is causing severe disruption for children’s education.

The leaders of the country’s two largest headteacher unions and the national school governor association said that schools are left in an “impossible” position of “either leaving close contacts of the infected person in school while they wait for guidance, or making a public health call themselves and deciding on who to send home”.

The Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), which represents the majority of secondary school heads, asked its members about their experience of the test and trace system.

Of the 276 responses it had, 264 heads (96 per cent) said they “had symptomatic staff and/or pupils who were struggling to access tests”.

A further 51 school leaders said they were having problems getting in touch with their local health protection team, while just 20 said the system appears to be working well in their area.

The reopening of schools has meant entire year groups or even whole schools have been sent home because children having symptoms are often unable to get a test to prove whether they have coronavirus or not.

If a pupil or staff member does test positive, headteachers have reported difficulties in accessing advice from public health officials about who should self-isolate so are sending large swathes of pupils home as a precautionary measure.