• 27 January 2021
  • 4 min read

Should COVID Testing Capacity Meant For Schools Be Used For Vaccinations Instead?

  • Matt Farrah
    Co-Founder
    • Richard Gill
    • Aubrey Hollebon
    • Brenda Walcott
    • Mat Martin
  • 1
  • 867
Should spare testing capacity be used for vaccinations instead?

Further rollout of rapid daily coronavirus testing in schools should be paused, Public Health England and NHS Test and Trace have said.

The measures announced just five weeks ago and hailed as a “milestone moment” by the education secretary Gavin Williamson for rapid testing in schools should be suspended, according to public health officials.

Will this latest reversal of government policy mean yet more confusion and longer school closures? Comment 💬 Like ❤️ Reply 🙂 below.

The plan for rapid COVID testing in secondary schools and colleges consisted of; 7 days of daily testing for pupils who had been near a positive case, daily tests for teachers if they had a COVID case in their class and routine weekly testing for teachers.

The aim of the plan had been to keep the maximum number of children in school by avoiding a whole bubble, class or year having to be sent home, and to reduce disruption to teaching from staff having to isolate.

Do you think, given the concerns about the accuracy of rapid testing and its effectiveness in highlighting clusters of infection, that the plan was being relied upon too much by government, and even without subsequent events, would have been doomed to failure?

Daily contact testing will be suspended in "all but a small number of secondary schools and colleges" where it is still being evaluated, according to PHE.

Since the introduction of the new lockdown, schools have been shut to all pupils except those of key workers. However, more pupils are recorded as attending school during this lockdown than previous ones.

This arguably makes the issue of infection control in schools still pressing but not as critical as it would be if schools were fully open. Do you agree?

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What do YOU think?

Let me know your thoughts in the Comments & click Like!

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The government insists that daily testing still has the potential to be a valuable tool to help keep pupils in school.

Given that it has been shown to be far easier to close schools than to open them, will the government be able to keep their focus on getting schools open as soon as possible, or will any perceived timeframe slip as more attention is taken up by vaccination issues?

“Testing is a vital part of our plan to suppress this virus, and we are consistently guided by expert advice on the best way to structure the programme,” said a government spokesman.

Do you think the requirement for testing in schools to prevent possible vectors of infection at home will be rendered obsolete, if the otherwise likely infectable family members of school-age children and students are immune or at least less susceptible due to vaccination?

Public Health England (PHE) have argued that the balance of the risks and potential benefits of daily testing were “unclear” given the emergence of the more transmissible variant of Covid-19.

Should the government be giving more consideration to the very real damage being done to children’s education, when assessing the risk of spreading the virus that opening schools fully would potentially present?

Geoff Barton, the general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said headteachers were “relieved” at the decision.

He went on to say mass testing was an important way of keeping schools open but that it was important for the government to provide clarity about the limitations of lateral flow tests, which provide results in 30 minutes but have failed to detect a significant proportion of infections in some trials.

Even without the fresh wave of school closures, do you think it was realistic from a logistics perspective to expect schools to be able to implement a testing regimen when given such short notice by the Department of Education?

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What do YOU think?

Let me know your thoughts in the Comments & click Like!

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In Scotland, the NASUWT had asked the Education Secretary John Swinney to look at mass testing in schools last year, but lockdowns and resultant school closures superseded the issue.

Wales, like England, had planned to introduce mass testing in Schools from January 2021, but their lockdown restrictions are now not due for review until 29th January 2021.

The Welsh Government website states “At that point, unless the rates of community transmission in Wales reduce significantly by 29 January, most students in schools and colleges will continue working remotely until the February half term.”

Do you expect all the devolved governments of the UK to coalesce around a date to reopen schools, or will each administration continue to plot their own course through the crisis?

Also, given the variations in vaccination rates between the nations of the UK, will any capacity freed up by the suspension of mass testing in schools allow the devolved nations to catch up on their vaccination progress?

In Northern Ireland, restrictions including school closure were to be reviewed on 21st January, so one would assume that mass testing may well be part of any reopening plan.

Please let us know what you think in the comments. Should any medical capacity freed up from the suspension of testing in most schools be used to increase the speed of vaccinations so the restrictions on our lives can be lifted sooner?

Also, please Like the article if you found it interesting.

Thanks.

About the author

  • Matt Farrah
    Co-Founder

I studied English before moving into publishing in the mid 90s. I co-founded Nurses.co.uk and our other three sites in 2008. I wanted to provide a platform that gives a voice to those working in health and social care. I'm fascinated, generally, by the career choices we all make. But I'm especially interested in the stories told by those who choose to spend their life supporting others. They are mostly positive and life-affirming stories, despite the considerable challenges and burdens faced.

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  • Matt Farrah
    Co-Founder

About the author

  • Matt Farrah
    Co-Founder

I studied English before moving into publishing in the mid 90s. I co-founded Nurses.co.uk and our other three sites in 2008. I wanted to provide a platform that gives a voice to those working in health and social care. I'm fascinated, generally, by the career choices we all make. But I'm especially interested in the stories told by those who choose to spend their life supporting others. They are mostly positive and life-affirming stories, despite the considerable challenges and burdens faced.

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    • Brenda Walcott 6 months ago
      Brenda Walcott
    • Brenda Walcott
      6 months ago

      Thanks for this review of the latest Public Health England (and Government) update of the covid 19 management strategy. There ... read more