All secondary school and college students in England are being urged to take a coronavirus test before returning to the classroom after the half-term break.
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has urged pupils to take rapid tests before heading back to schools on Monday in order to help break chains of coronavirus transmission.
A major testing programme has been in place since March to identify asymptomatic cases and isolate them as quickly as possible. According to official figures, more than 50 million rapid coronavirus tests have been conducted by students and staff at schools and colleges in England since 4 January.
Cases of COVID-19 are generally low across England, though cases have been rising recently and it is possible that the half-term break may have led to increased mixing and transmission of the virus.
There are also concerns over the Delta variant of the virus first identified in India, which is 40% more transmissible than the Alpha variant identified in Kent, according to Health Secretary Matt Hancock. Health and educational leaders have raised concerns over the Delta variant, which has led to significant rises in cases in a number of areas and calls by the National Education Union for schools in Lancashire to remain closed after the half-term break.
Urging young people to get tested, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said;
“Asymptomatic testing helps break chains of transmission by taking people who are infectious but don’t know it out of circulation.
“As the half term comes to an end, take a covid test before going back to the classroom.”
In the most recent 7-day period of data ending 31 May 2021, there were more COVID-19 cases in the 15-19 age group than any other age group in England. In that age group, the rolling rate of cases was 78.9 cases per 100,000 people – compared to the national rate of 34.5 cases per 100,000 people across all age groups.
Everyone in England is able to access free twice-weekly rapid coronavirus tests, including through simple home testing kits. Coronavirus lateral flow tests can be ordered on the Government’s website or can be collected from participating pharmacies and other sites across the country.