September 10, 2021
Thousands of students took lateral flow tests in preparation for the start of the school year this week. And they return to classrooms with parents divided over safety measures.
About 10,000 high school students in the Borough of Tunbridge Wells were tested in schools last week for Covid-19 as they returned from summer vacation. The results of these tests have not yet been made public.
Unlike last term, schools no longer have to keep students in age class “bubbles” to reduce mixing and face coverings are no longer recommended.
Prior to their return, high school students were asked to take two lateral flow tests at school, three to five days apart.
The demands of the tests meant that hundreds of parents and students had to queue in front of schools last week as the tests began at the various schools.
Another change to this term is that children do not have to isolate themselves if they come in contact with a positive case of Covid-19. Instead, they will need to take a PCR test and isolate themselves only if they are positive.
Double-vaccinated parents of a child who contracts Covid-19 will no longer need to self-isolate if they are negative.
Schools and colleges are encouraged to maintain increased hygiene and ventilation, and high school and college students in England have been urged to continue testing twice a week at home.
Informal surveys conducted by the Times show that parents are divided on the more relaxed approach to managing the virus.
On the one hand, those who think schools should insist that masks be worn and that classrooms be fully ventilated with windows open.
Parents who oppose this view believe that insisting on masks – “muzzling our children” – would violate their human rights.
In the middle are the schools, many of which have received aggressive emails on the matter.
Teachers were also given advice on how to spot any emerging mental health issues.
Kent County Council [KCC], who is responsible for all public schools in Tunbridge Wells, urged principals to follow Covid safety guidelines.
Shellina Prendergast, KCC Education and Skills Cabinet Member, said: “I extend a warm welcome to the school to all students, teachers and staff in Kent. I hope you all had a relaxing, enjoyable and healthy summer vacation and come back to class refreshed and looking forward to the new school year.
“I would also like to thank all of the staff who gave up part of their summer vacation to provide remedial lessons or other learning opportunities for students, or to prepare school buildings for return. students’ safety.
“Although many restrictions were lifted over the summer, Covid-19 has not gone away and it is important that everyone plays their part to ensure their safety, that of their families, friends, teachers and staff. Support.
“We encourage all schools in Kent to follow the latest government guidelines, which include implementing safety measures such as regular hand washing, cleaning regimes and keeping spaces well ventilated.
“High school students are urged to continue taking regular Covid-19 tests, as they did before the summer break, to make sure any positive cases are identified as quickly as possible – your school can give advice on testing if necessary.
“I must also thank the people working in nurseries and early childhood establishments who have worked hard to ensure the safety and health of the children and babies in their care; many of them have been open throughout the summer vacation period.
“As you go back to school and some of you are starting a new school or starting school for the first time, it is natural that you have some worries or concerns, and they can be. exacerbated by the presence of the pandemic.
“However, my colleagues and I firmly believe that school is the best place for children and young people for their educational and social development as well as for their mental and physical well-being.
“I really hope that as life slowly returns to its normal course, the children and youth of Kent can focus on the positive things they can enjoy in school now after missing them for so many months. , like socializing with all their friends over lunch. and break times rather than just those in their bubble and participate in more practical classes and extracurricular activities.
“I wish you all a pleasant, successful and safe time at school and I hope that if we all work together and do our part for our community we can have a fantastic year.”
Meanwhile, Dr Susan Hopkins, Director of Covid-19 Strategic Response at Public Health England, said: ‘Parents, young people and teachers should feel reassured the risk to the majority of children remains low. “
Don’t miss our Focus on … education special guide to choosing the right school in this week’s print version of Tunbridge Wells Timetable – also including ktechnological advances in the classroom and information on open days.