‘Extremely unlikely’ all school pupils will return on March 8 due to Covid testing logistics, teachers warn

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Luke O'Reilly
·2 min read
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<p>Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said schools will return on March 8</p> (PA)

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said schools will return on March 8

(PA)

Every pupil returning to school on March 8 is "extremely unlikely", teachers have warned.

The Government announced this week that secondary school and college students in England will be asked to take regular coronavirus tests at home when they return to school next month.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson told the Commons that all pupils will return to class from March 8, but the return of students in secondary schools and colleges could be staggered due to the logistics of mass testing.

Addressing the press conference on Wednesday, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said he hoped that parents would support children to carry out twice weekly testing at home. He added that everything was “strongly in favour” of children returning to classrooms on March 8.

However, ministers have admitted that some children may not have face-to-face teaching within the week of March 8 due to logistical issues with home testing, the Daily Mirror reported.

Teachers have gone further, calling the event "extremely unlikely".

"We think it is extremely unlikely that there will be secondary schools able to welcome back all of their pupils on March 8,” Julie McCulloch of the ASCL union said.

“Testing all secondary school pupils three times on site is a huge logistical challenge.

Head teacher Glenn Potts, who runs a 1500-pupil secondary in Oldham, warned that having a "fully operational" educational system at the same time as doing testing would be "really challenging".

“To turn round and say we’re going to have a fully operating, traditional education system at the same time as doing testing is going to be really challenging for us", he said.

“We’re allowed to stagger that return but parents want that confidence that once they’re back, they’re back for good.”

It comes as Mr Williamson is set to announce in the Commons on Thursday how the grades of hundreds of thousands of students in England will be awarded this summer in a bid to avoid a repeat of last year’s assessments fiasco.

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