Schools prepare for rapid testing to keep pupils & staff safe

Published Thursday 4 March 2021 at 9:17

As pupils across the country return to education on 8 March, Blackburn with Darwen schools, like many others, are taking extra steps to ensure the safety of their students and staff.

Witton Park Academy, on Buncer Lane, will be carrying out regular rapid COVID-19 tests on pupils at school from next week to minimise transmission before the virus even reaches the classroom. Results will be available within 30 minutes of having the test.

Headteacher Andrew Burton said:

Testing of asymptomatic pupils and staff is crucial in reducing the transmission rate.  Every case we catch will stop transmission happening and keep more pupils in school.

Each time there is a case in school, the pupil and their close contacts have to isolate at home. They have missed enough school time.

Around 250 pupils and staff will be tested every day. Students will be instructed on how to take their own swabs, supervised by trained members of school staff.

The aim is to train the young people to conduct the swab themselves so they can carry out home testing in the future.

Mr Burton continued:

We need to remember that whilst they are at a secondary school, they are still children and will no doubt be anxious about the situation.  If they need reassurance, we are there for them.

If the test is clear they can start back at school.  If they test positive, they will be asked to isolate at home and the school will inform their family.

Mr Burton added:

Hopefully it identifies as many cases as possible so that fewer people can transmit the virus.

Jo Siddle, Head of Education at Blackburn with Darwen Council, said:

Our Education Response Team has excellent relationships with all schools in the borough. We have been working closely with schools, offering them support where it’s needed to set up their testing programmes.

Parents and carers must give consent for their children to take part in this mass testing programme, which is happening in schools across England from next week.

Councillor Julie Gunn, Executive Member for Children, Young People and Education at Blackburn with Darwen Council, said:

It is important that students get back to the school routine and avoid having more time off.

The testing programme is non-compulsory, but we urge parents to give consent for their children to take part to help protect themselves, their teachers and the wider community.

There’s more information about the schools testing programme on the Council website at

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