Teachers and pupils will get coronavirus tests if they develop symptoms, Education Secretary says


TEACHERS and pupils will get Covid-19 tests if they develop symptoms when they go back to school, Gavin Williamson confirmed today.

The Education Secretary said a “track-and-trace approach” would be taken with any confirmed cases, as schools plan to begin a phased reopening from June 1.

Gavin Williamson today said all kids would get coronavirus tests if they needed them when schools return

He added that based on the medical and scientific advice, the reintroduction of classroom teaching next month was “the right thing to do and the only reasonable thing to do”.

He told MPs: “Crucially, all children and staff will have access to testing if they develop symptoms of coronavirus.

“This will enable a track-and-trace approach to be taken to any confirmed cases.”

The change was first revealed in guidance released on schools earlier this week, to help prepare them for returning to classroom.

Mr Williamson today hit back at hardline critics for “scaremongering” about the dangers of reopening schools.

And he warned families are being put under “pressure” because of blood-curdling tales about the risks of heading back to class.

Firebrand teachers unions have threatened to boycott plans to reopen schools gradually on June 1, claiming there are unsafe.

But Mr Williamson furiously hit back, insisting that the safety of kids was at the heart of his proposal.

Mr Williamson told the Commons: “The only consideration behind this decision is what is in the best interests and the welfare of children and those who work in schools.

“And we all recognise the importance of children being able to return to schools.

“And sometimes scaremongering and making people fear is really unfair and not a welcome pressure that is to be placed on families, children and teachers alike.”

The Cabinet minister was hauled into the Commons to explain his plan for primaries to start reopening on June 1.

Secondaries will be reopened for Year 10 and Year 12 pupils under the proposals to get England back to class.

Downing Street is facing a titanic battle with the school unions who have united to oppose the plan.

In a fiery statement, all seven unions demanded the government “step back” from reopening schools on June 1.

Instead, they are demanding that six strict safety tests are met before heads are told to roll out classes again.

They fumed: “While we know that children generally have mild symptoms, we do not know enough about whether they can transmit the disease to adults.

“We do not think that the government should be posing this level of risk to our society.

“We call on the government to step back from June 1 and work with us to create the conditions for a safe return to schools based on the principles and tests we have set out.”

Lashing the plans, they said teachers are the only workers who are not being protected with social distancing rules.

They are demanding that no more pupils are added to the school roll until a test, track and trace scheme is fully rolled out.

They also want the right to close schools if Covid outbreaks occur locally, and more money for school cleaning, PPE and risk assessments.


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