Education unions have told secondary schools and colleges they are not obliged to carry out mass testing from the start of next term, saying there were concerns plans were “not deliverable” by that date, with around two weeks left to plan for it over the Christmas break.
They said in a joint statement: “There are a number of unanswered questions including exactly what staff are expected to do, and what costs will be covered by the government, which have to be resolved before testing can begin.”
Guidance tells schools they should organise a small team to help manage the testing plans – which The Independent understands is to help with logistics. Mr Gibb confirmed today teachers would not be expected to administer tests, telling Sky News they “already have their hands full in terms of the education side”.
The unions – including the Association for School and College Leaders and the National Education Union – sent joint advice to their members on Friday, saying: “If a school or college decides it is unable to set up such testing systems, based on the current plans, you will receive the full support of our respective organisations.”
A DfE spokesperson said: “Testing on this scale means more children, teachers and staff can stay in their schools and colleges without the need to self-isolate.”
“Schools and colleges taking part in asymptomatic testing will help identify positive cases, break chains of transmission and reassure parents and teachers about returning to school and college for the spring term.
“We do not underestimate the challenges involved and scale of delivering this, which is why a cross-government operation is being mobilised to support schools and colleges.”
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