Zahawi urges older pupils to test before school return as Covid rates rise again

ONS estimates around 1 in 11 secondary pupils tested positive in week before half term

ONS estimates around 1 in 11 secondary pupils tested positive in week before half term

The education secretary has urged secondary pupils to take a Covid test before returning to school next week, as new data suggests around one in 11 tested positive in the week before half term.

In a video posted on Twitter, Nadhim Zahawi said he was “encouraging every young person at secondary school and college to take a rapid Covid test before returning after half term to help keep Covid out of the classroom”.

It comes after the latest Office for National Statistics infection survey data showed 9.1 per cent of pupils in years 7 to 11 were estimated to have tested positive in the week before half term. This equates to around one in 11 pupils, up from one in 13 the week before.

At primary level, 4.1 per cent of children aged two to school year 6 are estimated to have tested positive in the week before half term, equivalent to one in 24 pupils.

In his video, Zahawi said he needed the “help of parents, carers and guardians to encourage the young people in their home to test now and keep on testing”.

“Friends and family can also take a rapid Covid test too. It will help keep everyone safe.

“Covid is still with us. That is why it is so important that young people not only test but report their tests online or by calling 119.”

Tests available online or from pharmacies

He said “most” secondary schools and colleges had been providing free tests for students to take at home, and said those families without any tests could get them for free from or a pharmacy.

“Young people, schools and parents have worked so hard in our fight against this virus. Every single test we take and vaccination given brings us that much closer and a step further to defeating this virus.

“Together we will beat this virus and protect the education system and our children.”

It also comes after the ONS warned last week that people working in the education sector were more likely to test positive for Covid than any other sector due to high infection levels among school children..

The ONS said its survey data marked the “first time we have seen statistical evidence of a difference in recent fortnights for the educational sector”.

According to ONS analysis between September 20 and October 3, the estimated likelihood of an education worker testing positive for Covid was 0.39.

However the organisation said the findings needed to be “interpreted with caution until we have more data”.

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