Saturday, 26 Nov 2022

Secondary school kids can come back in January LATER in testing blitz plans – as ministers call upon retired teachers

SECONDARY school kids will be allowed to go back to school in January LATER than planned so they can be sure they don't have Covid – as ministers plan an army of retired teachers to stop them shutting totally.

Students will be asked to get two tests before going back to classrooms in another bid to stop the new omicron variant from ripping through schools.

Already parents have been pulling kids out of class and sending them home early in a bid to try and save their Christmas.

And schools are worried that they might have to revert to online learning so are asking kids to make sure they have everything at home before they break up for the holidays.

Education minister Alex Burghart told MPs such an approach would enable schools to put in place measures to test pupils for Covid on their return from their break.

He said testing, vaccination, ventilation and hygiene "are the ways in which we will absolutely back schools to make sure that in-classroom teaching can continue".

Mr Burghart went on: "We are recommending that at the start of next term all secondary school pupils will be tested right at the start of term, and we are offering a small amount of flexibility for the time at which schools can go back in order to make sure that this testing can take place.

"We are offering additional funding to make sure that this testing is available. I can reassure the House that schools have and will have all of the testing facilities that they require."

But he repeatedly refused to guarantee that schools would reopen in January as planned.

He would only say: "The Government is committed to ensuring schools open in January as normal.

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"The classroom is the very best place for children and young people's development."

He added: "Protecting education continues to be our absolute priority."

It came as Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi announced the call up for an army of retired teachers and support staff to help keep kids in classes come the new year.

He said: "Teachers and support staff are doing an incredible job responding to the pandemic."

I want to ensure schools and colleges continue to have support, which is why we are looking at what steps can help boost supply capacity."

Campaigning MP Robert Halfon, chair of the education select committee has long called for the move, which will see the Department for Education work with sector leaders and supply agencies to spread the word.

Mr Halfon told The Sun today: ""This is a really important step forward."Just as the NHS has a volunteer army, it's right that the education service should too – of retired teachers, lecturers and Ofsted inspectors."We need to keep our children learning."

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