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Commenting on the announcement from the Welsh Government that serial Coronavirus testing of pupils and staff in schools is to be rolled out from January as an alternative to self-isolation, Patrick Roach, General Secretary of the NASUWT-The Teachers’ Union, said:

“Increasing the provision for Covid testing among pupils and staff is a potentially helpful additional measure for schools and colleges to draw upon to help them remain open as safely as possible.

“However, the introduction of lateral flow testing is not a panacea to tackling the virus in education settings and it must not be allowed to compromise other Covid security measures in schools and colleges. It remains vitally important that all schools and colleges are supported to focus on maintaining and enforcing all of the safety measures which they should have in place and which are designed to mitigate transmission of the virus amongst pupils and staff.

“While we appreciate the desire of the Welsh Government to avoid unnecessary disruption to pupils’ education by offering lateral flow testing as an alternative to self-isolation, such a strategy comes with its own risks and the effectiveness of the roll out will need to be closely monitored to ensure it does not undermine the safety of pupils or staff.”

Neil Butler, NASUWT National Official Wales said:

“There remain a number of important questions about the plans which the NASUWT will be seeking urgent clarification on from the Welsh Government.

“It is unclear who is expected to administer these tests. The Welsh Government has stated schools and colleges will be offered support, equipment and training, indicating that it expects staff to undertake this task. The NASUWT is clear that it is not the responsibility of teachers or school leaders to undertake testing of pupils or employees and will be asking the Welsh Government to confirm that it does not expect teaching staff to carry out this work.

“It will also be important that this testing strategy is not used to keep schools open in circumstances where the number of pupils or staff testing positive within a school or college indicates that full or partial closures are the safest option and the Welsh Government must provide fuller guidance to schools which makes this clear.”

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