Family & Education

Parents back testing as children return to class

Regular tests and masks in class are part of the back to school experience


CHERTSEY, UNITED KINGDOM - MARCH 08: (Editorial Use Only) Pupils from Chertsey High School take lateral flow tests for Covid-19 ahead of their full return to school, on March 08, 2021 in Chertsey, United Kingdom. Chertsey High school, which is part of the Bourne Education Trust, plans to conduct lateral flow testing on the Monday, with all pupils fully returning to the classroom the following day, Tuesday 9th. England's schools re-open to pupils from March 8th, 2021 after closing for a third lockdown on January 5th, 2021. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

Jewish school heads report strong backing for testing among parents as pupils returned to on-site classes this week in the first lifting of lockdown restrictions.

According to government guidelines, secondary school pupils in England are being asked to take three Covid tests in school and one at home in the first fortnight back and thereafter twice weekly at home.

For pupils under 16, parental consent is needed for children to be tested.

Although there have been reports in the national media of parental resistance to testing in some schools, this has not appeared a problem in the Jewish state sector.

Joshua Rowe, chairman of Manchester’s King David High School, said on Monday, said, “Testing is going very well. The vast majority of kids came in last Thursday for the first round of testing and the second round is being done today.”

Spencer Lewis, executive headteacher of Yavneh College, estimated testing take-up at around 90 per cent, Patrick Moriarty, head of JCoSS put parental consent at 95 per cent and Hannele Reece, head of Kantor King Solomon High said parent and student consent was around 85 per cent.

Michael Sutton, headteacher of King David High School Liverpool, said, “We did the first test on Friday — we administered around 700 tests, which is about 90 per cent. If you factor in those who shouldn’t test due to Covid in the last 90 days and a few who couldn’t make it, I think we have a very high take-up.”

To cope with the testing regime, schools have staggered the return over the course of the week and pupils are now advised by government to wear masks in class.

Mrs Reece said on Monday, “It is a full-time operation between now and Pesach. Students are coming in on a phased return, which means that by tomorrow we will have all of year 7, 8 and 9 tested once and in for a Covid procedure induction/reminder session, and in face-to-face lessons from Wednesday.

“By Friday we will have tested and inducted everyone and all students will all be in face-to-face lessons from Monday.”

No one, she added, was “looking forward to wearing masks for such a lot of the time and we are hoping for weather that allows students to get outside during break and lunch so they can spend some time without their masks.”

Parents of primary-aged children, meanwhile, can collect kits from local test centres for twice-weekly testing at home.

Kirsten Jowett, chief executive of the Jewish Community Academy Trust, a consortium of five London primaries, said the vast majority of children were back in school on Monday with only a “very few” shielding at home.

At the Kisharon Noé School in London, interim head Sharon Mullish said it was “wonderful” to see children back.

The special school,which was still teaching 41 children on site during lockdown, welcomed the return of six more this week.

Some secondary-aged Kisharon pupils were taking tests independently and some with support, she said. But pupils were not wearing masks in class because of their special needs.

Kisharon parent Jane Pearl said her 11-year old son Chanochi was “excited to be back at school and be with his friends. As a mother of four, this period of time has certainly been challenging so I am delighted that all my children can now return to school. We are so grateful for everything the teachers have done.”


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