Students take rapid lateral flow tests as they return to school

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Teenagers have been self-administering Covid-19 tests as they return to school for the first time this year.

Year 11 students at Archway School in Stroud, Gloucestershire, had to take a rapid lateral flow test, which provides a result in half an hour, before being able to start lessons.

Staff had staggered pupils’ return, with tutor groups of 30 students arriving at 30-minute intervals in order to take the test.

The Government has introduced mass testing to reduce the risk of spreading coronavirus.

All secondary school pupils will be offered three tests on their return before being asked to carry them out twice a week at home.

Coronavirus – Mon Mar 8, 2021
Year 11 pupil Harry Archer is instructed by a member of staff while taking a lateral flow test in the sports hall at Archway School in Stroud (Ben Birchall/PA)

While school science technicians process the results, the students have to sit and wait in the sports hall until they get the all-clear to join their tutor group in lessons.

Students and staff will wear masks in classrooms and, to help reduce social contact around the school, there are year group “bubbles”, lessons have been extended, and breaks and lunchtimes have been staggered.

Only Years 11, 12 and 13 returned for face-to-face teaching on Monday.

Years 7 and 10 will go back on Tuesday and Years 8 and 9 on Wednesday. and until then online learning will continue from home. All students will be in school from Thursday.

Coronavirus – Mon Mar 8, 2021
Year 11 student Rubi Aylmer waits with fellow pupils for the results of their lateral flow tests (Ben Birchall/PA)

While some schools were able to reopen for one day after the Christmas holidays before being ordered to close, Archway was shut as it was an inset day.

Headteacher Kieron Smith said: “It’s been wonderful seeing the faces of the students – well, what I can see of the faces of the students – this morning.

“I can tell that they’re just as pleased as us to be back in school because we have Year 11s in this morning and of course for them it’s a very important year.

“We’ve had measures in place since September with the one-way system and the wearing of masks in corridors and communal areas, but we upped that to wearing masks within lessons, and the same goes for staff as well.

Coronavirus – Mon Mar 8, 2021
Pupils arrive and socially distance while queuing to take a lateral flow test at Archway School in Stroud (Ben Birchall/PA)

“For the next two weeks they will be tested three times to make sure they’re clear and everyone’s feeling happy about being in school.

“We’re staggering the students’ return so they’re coming in tutor by tutor with half-hour intervals.

“At any one time we have about 30 students in the queue waiting.

“They are then being processed one at a time through six booths and three testing stations.

“They are then waiting in a holding bay for the all-clear and we have a computerised system which passes on the all-clear to those students and then they can proceed to their lessons.”

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