The founder of a family of independent schools in London has said she supports mask wearing and testing on-site if it means schools can stay open.
This week the government announced that pupils, staff and visitors in secondary schools in England should wear face coverings in communal areas. The new rule has been introduced in a bid to stop the spread of the Omicron variant of Covid-19.
The BBC also reported that secondary schools have been asked to prepare to test pupils on-site after the Christmas holiday.
Andrea Greystoke, founder of Abercorn School, said: “I am supportive of the reintroduction of measures for compulsory mask wearing in secondary schools throughout the country. The most important thing is that schools remain open to protect children’s wellbeing.
“As good as some online education is, it was not a comfortable experience for most children. We have seen the adverse impact schools closing can have on young people, and we should do everything possible to avoid this happening again.”
We have seen the adverse impact schools closing can have on young people, and we should do everything possible to avoid this happening again – Andrea Greystoke, Abercorn School
Greystoke said testing pupils on-site in January is a “small ask” to protect people’s wellbeing.
“I am supportive of any measures we can adopt to keep pupils in class and schools open. The last year has been extremely difficult for many pupils, teachers and parents alike, and testing pupils when they return from their Christmas holidays is a small ask to protect people’s wellbeing and education in the classroom.
“Closing schools should be a last resort, and I believe that more testing should be encouraged, both with pupils and staff, if it helps to prevent harsher measures being considered.”
Julie McCulloch, director of policy at the Association of School and College Leaders, said the government is treating school leaders like an “ad hoc branch of the NHS”, rather than educators.
McCulloch said: “We recognise the importance of Covid testing to reduce the risk of transmission of the virus, but it is not reasonable for the government to once again impose this considerable public health task on schools with minimal support.”
She said while schools can provide a space for test centres, they should not be expected to handle the logistics of staffing and setting up testing stations.
Image: Wikimedia Commons