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Lack of lateral flow tests in schools putting staff and children at risk, Unison says

A LACK of Covid-19 lateral flow tests in schools is putting staff and children at risk, public-sector union Unison said today.

The warning came after a survey of more than 2,300 staff revealed nearly a third — 32 per cent — said bosses had been unable to provide enough rapid tests to do the recommended twice-weekly checks.

Infected pupils could be inadvertently spreading the virus as a result, the education union stressed.

In primary schools, 37 per cent said they lack sufficient test kits, while in early years settings it was more than half.

Of those unable to get hold of enough tests at work, 63 per cent said they cannot get them locally or online either.

Unison head of education Mike Short said: “Schools and nurseries up and down the country have been struggling with high absence rates, and a poor supply of tests only makes things worse.

“The government needs to look urgently at what is happening. Despite ministers’ guarantees that there were no shortages of tests, the reality on the ground is that staff don’t have enough.”

The survey was published a day after Tory ministers announced that mandatory face mask wearing for pupils in secondary schools would end from next Thursday as “Plan B” Covid-19 mitigation measures are scaled back.

Guidance to wear face coverings indoors at universities and colleges is also set to be withdrawn, a move branded as “irresponsible” by the University and College Union. 

General secretary Jo Grady said: “Education has faced enough disruption and it is irresponsible to abandon mitigations that reduce the risk of outbreaks.”

High-quality face masks and adequate ventilation must be “freely available” on campus, she demanded. 


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