SCHOOLS could scrap ‘live’ online lessons for two weeks as teachers divert resources to test secondary pupils for Covid.
A mass testing blitz launches tomorrow with 32 million kits being posted to families with school-age kids in a bid to get students back in classrooms from March 8.
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Secondary and college pupils will be tested with lateral flow tests twice a week.
But head teachers have said all this extra work will mean interactive lessons will need to cut, The Telegraph reports.
Some students, especially those aged 12 to 14, may not return to school until as late as March 19 because of the time taken to test other year groups – but their online teaching may take a hit while they wait.
Parents at one London secondary school were told last week that all students will be “back on site by March 19 at the latest”.
But this is just two weeks before schools break up for Easter when kids will have another fortnight off.
The school said for the Covid testing to take place, “students not yet attending lessons on site will access all lessons via presentations and pre-recorded content”.
It stated that this was necessary “to ensure that staff can be used to support with Covid testing and preparations for students’ return to school”.
One head teacher has predicted up to two weeks of “disrupted learning” while the mass testing blitz is rolled out.
Jules White, head of Tanbridge House School in Horsham, West Sussex, and founder of the Worth Less? school campaign group, said: “Teaching will be interrupted and disrupted [during testing].
“There are capacity issues and we need 12 to 15 staff to oversee the testing of 300 pupils a day before they can return.
“My school will try to continue with live [remote] lessons but it will be tricky.”
In a letter to parents, Mr White wrote: “The logistics of meeting our obligations are considerable.”
He added that he hoped in-person lessons would commence for all students by March 18 – 10 days after kids are due to return.
And he believes his school won’t be alone, stating that members of Worth Less?, representing several thousand head teachers, would experience similar issues.
Primary pupils will not have to be tested or wear masks, but all secondary school children should take four tests within the first fortnight of reopening.
Although the Government has said both measures are “voluntary” and that teachers should not send pupils home for refusing.
Official guidance from the Department for Education states that “no pupil should be denied education on the grounds that they are not wearing a face covering”.
It also states that lateral flow testing is “voluntary” and “schools will have discretion on how to test students over that week as they return to the classroom”.
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Teens will be free to attend class after their first negative test but must self-isolate if positive.
They will then have to swab themselves at home twice a week and inform their school of the result.
Geoff Barton, the general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said “it would be understandable if some [schools] have to adapt their online programmes given the very significant logistical challenges involved in organising mass testing”.
However, he highlighted that any disruption to lessons would be “for only a short period of time”.