Government considering extra testing kits for schools

The government is looking at increasing the number of testing kits issued to schools.

In the commons today, Conservative MP Nick Fletcher urged the government to increase the number of test kits issued to schools, currently 10, up to 30 to “help pupils remain in the classroom”.

Schools Week revealed last week how schools were burning through their small supplies as the government’s test and trace system fell over.

Since yesterday, schools have been able to order more kits, which are supplied in sets of 10. The government has also confirmed the number ordered will be linked to a school’s size, not the level of cases in a region (see box below).

But when asked whether the government was looking at increasing the number of testing kits distributed to schools, health secretary Matt Hancock said: “Yes , we are looking at exactly that.”

Figures from Teacher Tapp show some 25,000 teachers (five per cent) have needed a test in the past seven days.

Some schools have had to abandon full-time teaching and move to a rota because of the high number of staff self-isolating.

Problems with the government’s current testing capacity have been well documented with people finding it near impossible to book a test, or being told their “nearest” testing centre is hundreds of miles away – one reportedly a 1,100-mile round trip.

Prime minister Boris Johnson admitted yesterday the government does not have enough testing capacity to keep up with current demand.

This was despite a pledge earlier this year from the Department for Education that it would make it “as easy as possible” for school staff and pupils to get tests.

The government is set to publish a prioritisation list for testing within the next few days. Both the Guardian and the Telegraph newspapers reported this would include school staff.

 

How many testing kits can schools re-order?

Schools with under 1,000 pupils = 10

Schools with between 1,000 – 2,000 pupils = 20

Schools with between 2,000 – 3,000 pupils = 30