England to reopen schools on March 8 with increased Covid tests

The UK Prime Minister has announced that all schools in England will be going back from March 8th. He added that schools will be able to decide on how they want to proceed with reopening during that week.

According to the reopening plan, secondary school students are expected to take a Covid test at home before returning to school. This will be followed by bi-weekly tests voluntary tests for all students.

Reopening schools

While addressing members of parliament, the prime minister said that all evidence available indicated that classrooms were the safest place for students, arguing that schools could be safely reopened. 

Johnson’s statements were echoed by Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer who added that students needed to be back to school as soon as possible. He continued by saying that it was the government’s priority to ensure that students were safely back for in-person classes.

However, not everyone was on board with reopening the schools on March 8th, with Geoff Barton, leader of the ASCL head teachers’ union, questioning the logic behind reopening schools all at once. He argued that this would be dangerous because students would be clamped in classrooms, increasing the possibility of spreading the virus.

Barton continued by warning the government that the hast reopening of schools would contribute to the cycle of stop-start schooling, where schools have been asked to shut down several times in the UK since the pandemic began. He also argued that testing all students could take at least two weeks.

Schools will also continue to offer testing to students. However, it is the parents, who are expected to carry the first tests before school reopening, who many are uncertain with. This is because the tests take samples from the back of the throat through the nostrils and some parents may find that hard to carry out.

However, the Department for Education indicated that students would be required to continue observing other covid measures such as wearing masks to curb the spread of the virus.