Coronavirus: schools could close again for lack of tests, warns the director | UK News

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Schools could be forced to partially or fully close due to a lack of coronavirus testing for staff with symptoms, a principal has warned.

Darren Gelder, of Grace Academy in Solihull, told Sky News his school is already feeling the strain – despite the lack of confirmed cases of virus – because five staff members have to isolate themselves or have family members who isolate themselves.

“The biggest challenge we’re going to have to face in keeping the school open will be to keep it staffed and staff shortages will have the biggest impact on that,” he said.

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Darren Gelder said they could reach a “critical tipping point very, very quickly”

“In particular, the challenge we have around testing – of not being able to know if it’s positive or not and that staff can come back. This means that the staff are away longer.

“All schools these days are working on very, very tight budgets. There isn’t a lot of staff available, so we hit a tipping point very, very quickly.

He says a member of his staff who is in isolation was offered a test in Fife, over 350 km away. The others couldn’t book anything.

This means they have to self-isolate for 14 days. If they were able to get tested and find out they don’t have the virus, they could return to work immediately.

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Five school staff must isolate

The Ministry of Education reports that 99.9% of schools opened at the start of the term.

But their figures show that 8% of state-funded schools have been partially closed.

And student attendance rates fell to 88%, from 95.3% last year.

Panels and duct tape are used to keep students isolated at Grace Academy in Solihull
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Panels and tape are used to separate the students

Like hundreds of schools across the country, Coleshill Heath Primary School had to ask some students to self-isolate after a confirmed case of COVID-19[feminine[feminine.

Susan Venables has a daughter in grade 4 who is not in school and another daughter in grade 1 who has yet to go. She wonders if it’s safe.

“I haven’t sent it for two days,” she said. “I said she wasn’t going to school, but I was told I was going to be fined. “

Susan Venables has a daughter in grade 4 who is not in school and another daughter in grade 1 who has yet to go
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Susan Venables has a daughter in grade 4 who is not in school

Patrick Roach, general secretary of the NASUWT teachers’ union, told Sky News the government could do more to reiterate guidelines for parents on when it is safe to be in school.

“But, you know, that’s only part of the problem,” he says.

“The main issue is making sure the capacity is there. If you have symptoms of COVID, you can take a test and get tested quickly. ”

The government has insisted it is working closely with all schools that are not fully open to ensure distance education is in place for children who cannot attend in person, and to ensure that schools only send those who isolate themselves to their homes who have contact with a confirmed case of the coronavirus.

And he added that starting Wednesday, schools will be able to order more home test kits for teachers who cannot make it to testing centers.

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