Government Ignores Medicine Regulator on School Testing

Today it was reported by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) that the average the rate of COVID-19 infection is 1.9 times higher amongst primary and secondary teachers, than in the general population. For teaching assistants, the rate of COVID infection is three times higher in primary schools. Despite this, the Government are using Lateral Flow tests against the Medicine Regulators advice.

Despite the government advising children to learn from home, schools are still open albeit at reduced rates. 

It is therefore very concerning that in less than a month the government plans to fully reopen primary schools with no extra safety measures in place. 

As a precaution, The Department for Education have advised schools to use lateral flow tests despite this being against the regulators advice. This could lead to pupils staying in school and potentially spreading the virus when they should be self-isolating says the British Medical Journal (BMJ).

On the 12th of January 2021, the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) told the Department of Health and Social Care that it had not approved lateral flow kits for daily contact testing. This is because of concerns that they give people false reassurance if they are negative. 

As a result this could lead to pupils staying in school and potentially spreading the virus when they should be self-isolating.

Combined with ineffectiveness of the class bubble system this puts both teaching staff and children at a greater risk of contracting COVID-19, and is in no way effective at combating the virus in the classroom.

Whilst recognising that children still need educating and key workers still need to work, it is being questioned at what point the government will recognise the need to prioritise the health of teaching staff, school staff and children?

The government is being urged to step forward with an effective plan to keep everyone safe at schools, instead pushing the burden of this onto head teachers at the last minute. 

As COVID-19 death rates continue to rise, the government is being urged by Education Unions to put the health of all staff and children first and with the upmost urgency so as provide a safe working plan in time for the reopening of schools.

Many will see them against the Medicine Regulators advice, as rushing to open schools at the expense of staff and children.

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