An empty classroom at the Great Academy Ashton as the school prepares to reopen on March 8th after the latest lockdown slowed the spread of the coronavirus in Ashton-Under-Lyne, England on Thursday March 4th, 2021 . The school for approximately 1,300 students ages 11 to 16 in Greater Manchester will have approximately 450 tests on students and staff a day for the first two weeks after students return on Monday. (AP Photo Jon Super)

British students, supported by a robust coronavirus testing program, are preparing to return to school on Monday after a two-month closure. Prime Minister Boris Johnson says it is a plan to “bring the country closer to a sense of normalcy”.

Reopening schools is the first step in the UK government’s plan to gradually relax COVID-19 restrictions as the country’s vaccination campaign gains critical mass and all restrictions are lifted by June.

As part of the plan, millions of high school and college students returning to UK classrooms will be tested for the virus in its first few weeks. Authorities want to quickly identify and isolate asymptomatic cases to avoid sending entire schools home.

“We are careful with our approach so that we do not undo the progress made so far,” Johnson said in a statement, calling on everyone to qualify for a vaccination.

High schools and colleges can gradually reopen to allow three rounds of testing. Students are then given kits that they can use to test themselves two more times at home. The UK government has distributed nearly 57 million rapid lateral flow test kits to schools across the country. However, there are concerns about the accuracy of the tests which can result in students being forced to unnecessarily self-isolate

UK schools reopened through frequent virus testing

In this file photo, taken on Friday February 5, 2021, is the AstraZeneca vaccine that can be used at the Wellcome Center in London. Regulators in the UK and four other countries announced on Thursday March 4, 2021 that they would accelerate the development and approval of modified COVID-19 vaccines to ensure drug manufacturers can respond quickly to emerging variants of the coronavirus disease . (AP Photo / Frank Augstein, FILE)

However, a senior public health official said Sunday that the risk of a false positive result was very small. More than 5 million rapid tests were performed in schools during the lockdown, including 1 million in the past week, the government said.

The results of testing over the past eight weeks show that “the risk of false positives is extremely small, less than 1 in 1,000,” Susan Hopkins, COVID-19’s strategic response director for Public Health England, told the BBC. “And a test that gives less than 1 in 1,000 false positives is a very good test.”

To help children study online for months to keep up with their education, officials are considering extending school days, shortening the summer vacation, or adding an extra term to the year. British students already have much shorter summer vacations than American students and usually take their summer break after mid-July.

  • UK schools reopened through frequent virus testing

    An isolation area for any student or employee with Covid symptoms at Great Academy Ashton as the school prepares to reopen March 8th after the final lockdown to the spread of the coronavirus in Ashton-Under-Lyne, England, on Thursday, March, has braked 4, 2021. The school for approximately 1,300 students ages 11-16 in Greater Manchester is required to conduct approximately 450 tests per day on students and staff for the first two weeks after students return on Monday. (AP Photo Jon Super)

  • UK schools reopened through frequent virus testing

    UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock during a visit to the Virus Research Center at Glasgow University in Glasgow, Scotland on Thursday March 4, 2021. Regulators in the UK and four other countries said Thursday they plan to develop and approve to expedite modified COVID-19 vaccines to ensure drug makers can quickly target emerging variants of coronavirus disease. (Jane Barlow / PA via AP)

  • UK schools reopened through frequent virus testing

    COVID-19 self-test kits at the Great Academy Ashton as the school prepares to reopen on March 8th after the final lockdown on the spread of the coronavirus in Ashton-Under-Lyne, England, on Thursday March 4th In 2021, the school for approximately 1,300 students ages 11 to 16 in Greater Manchester will have to conduct around 450 tests per day on students and staff for the first two weeks after students return on Monday. (AP Photo Jon Super)

  • UK schools reopened through frequent virus testing

    A Covid testing area will be set up at Great Academy Ashton as the school prepares to reopen on March 8th after the final lockdown to spread the coronavirus in Ashton-Under-Lyne, England on Thursday March 4th, 2021 has braked. The school with approximately 1,300 students ages 11 to 16 in Greater Manchester will have to conduct around 450 tests per day on students and staff for the first two weeks after students return on Monday. (AP Photo Jon Super)

  • UK schools reopened through frequent virus testing

    David Waugh, right, director of the Great Academy Ashton, walks into a testing area in Covid as the school prepares to reopen on March 8th after the final lockdown on the spread of the coronavirus on Thursday March 4th in Ashton- Under-Lyne, England, 2021. The school, for approximately 1,300 students ages 11 to 16 in Greater Manchester, is required to conduct approximately 450 tests per day on students and staff for the first two weeks after students return on Monday . (AP Photo Jon Super)

  • UK schools reopened through frequent virus testing

    A Great Academy Ashton student is walked through the Covid testing process as the school prepares to reopen on March 8th following the final lockdown to spread the coronavirus in Ashton-Under-Lyne, England on Thursday April 4th. March 2021. The school, for approximately 1,300 students aged 11-16 in Greater Manchester, will have to conduct around 450 tests per day on students and staff for the first two weeks after students return on Monday. (AP Photo Jon Super)

  • UK schools reopened through frequent virus testing

    This Thursday March 4th, 2021, students at Great Academy Ashton in Ashton-Under-Lyne, England will be guided through the COVID-19 testing process as the school prepares to reopen on Monday March 8th . British Students Supported We are preparing to go back to school on Monday after a two-month shutdown, according to a robust coronavirus testing program. Prime Minister Boris Johnson says it is a plan to “bring the country closer to a sense of normalcy”. (AP Photo Jon Super, File)

  • UK schools reopened through frequent virus testing

    A Covid testing area will be set up at Great Academy Ashton as the school prepares to reopen on March 8th after the final lockdown to spread the coronavirus in Ashton-Under-Lyne, England on Thursday March 4th, 2021 has braked. The School With approximately 1,300 students aged 11-16 in Greater Manchester, around 450 tests are required on students and staff daily for the first two weeks after students return on Monday. (AP Photo Jon Super)

  • UK schools reopened through frequent virus testing

    A Great Academy Ashton student is walked through the Covid testing process as the school prepares to reopen on March 8th following the final lockdown to spread the coronavirus in Ashton-Under-Lyne, England on Thursday April 4th. March 2021, has braked the school for approximately 1,300 students ages 11-16 in Greater Manchester will have to conduct approximately 450 tests per day on students and staff for the first two weeks after students return on Monday. (AP Photo Jon Super)

“We are examining a whole range of measures,” British Education Minister Gavin Williamson told Sky News. “We need to look at what will have the greatest positive impact on children’s lives.”

The UK has the deadliest coronavirus outbreak in Europe. So far, almost 125,000 people have died. However, the coronavirus vaccination program has preceded the US and European Union to give at least an initial dose to nearly 22 million adults in the country to date.

The UK has approved three vaccines for use: those made by Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca, and plans to vaccinate all adults by July.

Follow the latest news on the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak

© 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed in any way without permission.

Quote: UK Schools Reopening Supported by Frequent Virus Testing (2021 March 7), accessed March 8, 2021 from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2021-03-uk-schools-reopen-frequent-virus.html

This document is subject to copyright. Except for fair trade for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without written permission. The content is provided for informational purposes only.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here