SOME Basingstoke secondary schools are beginning to test pupils for Covid-19 this week ahead of reopening on Monday.

Following the publication of the government’s roadmap for leaving lockdown, primary and secondary schools will be returning to face-to-face education from Monday.

Some Basingstoke secondary schools are testing pupils at school this week in preparation.

Eventually, pupils will be expected to carry out the test at home.

At The Costello School, in Crossborough Hill, testing will begin on site tomorrow (Thursday).

The lateral flow tests use a swab of the nose and throat with results provided half-an-hour later.

Other schools are planning a phased return, beginning testing next week.

At The Vyne School, in South View, students will begin testing from Monday.

Nicola Pearce, headteacher, encouraged parents to give their consent for testing, writing in a letter to parents: “The testing of all students before returning to full time lessons on site will aim to identify and remove anyone from circulation within the school who is asymptomatic with Covid-19.

"In this way we will reduce the transmission within our school community and will support a safe and sustained return to school for all.

“This testing will be most effective if as many students as possible participate. I encourage you to support your child’s involvement in the testing please.”

At Aldworth School, in South Ham, all students will have one test before they begin on-site learning.

The school is aiming to administer 150 tests a day, before increasing to 300 by the end of next week.

It will operate a staggered return with a mixture of on-site and remote learning.

A letter sent to parents from headteacher Paul Jenkins said: “All the time we have to ensure that our systems are robust and safe because we don’t want to rush the testing but therefore create close contact situations where we find children then have to self-isolate for ten days because they came into contact unnecessarily with a positive case.”

He added: “As you can imagine this is a massive exercise and we would like to test almost all students, in order to make our school as safe as possible for students and staff.”

At Cranbourne School, in Wessex Close, staff are planning a four-phase return with students tested one year group at a time before returning to school.  

Councillor Roz Chadd, Hampshire County Council’s executive member for education and skills, said it is working with headteachers to support them with reopening, ensuring “appropriate Covid safety measures [are] in place to reduce the risk of transmission and protect staff, pupils and communities”.

He added: “This includes lateral flow testing for staff in all schools and secondary aged pupils. This will mean a flexible return for secondary schools while testing is rolled out.

“It is very important to note that testing is not a substitute for other protective measures: everyone must continue to follow ‘hands, face, space’ guidance throughout the school day, while parents and carers should observe social distancing in the playground and around the school gates during drop off and pick up.”

Cllr Chad thanked school staff, nursery staff and childminders for their “outstanding dedication and hard work” throughout the pandemic, adding: “Their remarkable creativity and resilience in continuing to meet the needs of children and young people during exceptionally challenging circumstances. We look forward to seeing everyone back in the classroom from next week.”

From 8 March:

• all children and students can return to face-to-face education in schools. There will be a staggered return for secondary schools to allow for testing to be established.

• early years providers remain open for all children, as they have throughout lockdown.

• after school clubs and children’s sports activities can resume in some circumstances.

Lateral flow testing

• Lateral flow tests are for people without symptoms of coronavirus and involve a swab of the nose and throat. Around 1 in 3 people who have COVID-19 do not have any symptoms and can spread it without knowing, so this type of testing will help to identify more positive cases quickly and reduce the chance of the virus spreading.

• Testing in school is voluntary and no child or young person will be tested unless they are willing and informed consent has been given by the appropriate person.

• Secondary school pupils will take three tests at school, after which pupils will be expected to carry out twice weekly testing at home.

• Whole families and households with primary school, secondary school and college age children, will be able to test themselves twice every week from home.

Schools are communicating specific guidance to parents and carers around testing and wearing of face coverings. All Covid-19 measures will be implemented in accordance with Government guidance and in the most appropriate way for each setting.

For more information and guidance on lateral flow testing in educational settings, visit Any child or young person displaying symptoms of coronavirus should not attend nursery or school. They must stay at home, follow self-isolation guidance and book a test. The rest of the household must also follow self-isolation guidance.