Staggered start for schools - and students urged to have Covid test before returning

Mobile coronavirus testing stations are continuing to visit Suffolk and Essex during the second wave Picture: SARAH LUCY...

Essex County Council has urged schoolchildren to get coronavirus tests before the end of the Christmas break - Credit: Archant

Essex County Council has urged parents of secondary school students to get their children tested for coronavirus ahead of a return to class - but not all will be back next week as planned.

The authority posted on Facebook saying secondary school students should take a Covid-19 test between four and seven days before the end of the Christmas break.

But today it has been confirmed only primary pupils, those in Years 11 and 13, and children of key workers will return on January 4 for the start of the new term.

The remainder of high school students will instead revert to home learning for at least a week, according to Michael Gove. The plan is to stagger the reopening of schools to allow the Government to monitor the Covid rates.

Essex County Council's suggestion for students to be tested before they return has come under fire from parents - with many believing the mass testing would not be an effective way of preventing the spread of Covid-19 in schools.

Robyn Isles commented on the Facebook post to say: "Can you, Essex County Council, confirm that these tests pick up every strain, are fully effective, and that sending our children to school will mean they are safe?"

Li Anne added: "Sending them back to school tested or not tested is going to be a disaster and the government must know that by now.

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"Look at the mess we are in and you’re seriously considering sending kids back into classes of 30?"

And Lucy Cross said: "But testing isn't prevention. They can test negative and catch it a few days later.

"Secondary schools are overcrowded as it is. Online learning and rota systems should be implemented with the vulnerable and special educational needs children still being able to attend full time."