The first step in the easing of national lockdown restrictions begins next week with schools and colleges re-opening to all pupils and students from Monday.
Although cases are declining, everyone needs to play their part to keep the virus under control while keeping children and young people in school and each COVID-19 case need to be found as quickly and as easily as possible.
Whole families and households with primary school, secondary school and college age children, including childcare and support bubbles, will be able to test themselves twice every week from home as schools return.
Rotherham secondary school and college students are being tested twice a week, receiving three initial tests at school or college before transitioning to twice weekly home testing. Primary school children will not be regularly asymptomatically tested due to low levels of transmission between younger aged children but will continue to need to come forward for tests if they have symptoms.
Testing began last week with pupils going into school to take a rapid asymptomatic Lateral Flow test.
For Oakwood High School, Chris Eccles, Head of School, explained: “To provide us all with another layer of protection and to allow us to move out of lockdown we will, inline with the government’s guidance, administer three tests in school. This is, in part, to ensure that pupils are familiar with the testing process.
“After the third test, each pupil will receive a home testing kit that contains seven rounds of testing and a letter explaining when and how the test should be carried out. The home testing programme is aimed at allowing schools to focus on the core business of education, whilst ensuring that the protection provided by mass rapid asymptomatic testing is maintained, as we move through the phases of the government’s route map out of restrictions.”
As with student testing, families getting tested twice a week is encouraged but not mandatory.
If you are the parent or guardian of a student returning to school or college next week you can collect free rapid lateral flow home test kits from Rotherham’s testing sites at Herringthorpe Stadium, Maltby Leisure Centre and Dinnington Community Centre. They are open for collection from 1.30-7pm all weekend. Tests can also be ordered online here.
On returning to the classroom, Eccles added: “Pupils have now been away from school for over ten weeks. In this time, learning has continued through our blended learning programme. We are happy and confident that for many pupils they will have continued to learn, albeit in a different way.
“Our pupils and staff have done a fantastic job with blended learning, however there is no substitute for being in school, learning alongside other people and developing not only knowledge and skills, but also developing social and interpersonal skills.”
Images: Oakwood High School / Facebook