THERE will be no Covid testing in East Sussex schools ‘in the short term.’

East Sussex health officials have decided it would be wrong.

They say there are too many unanswered questions.

A letter says: “Our aim is to ensure that schools are as safe as they can be for your children and that we minimise the disruption to their learning.

In considering the introduction of testing in schools, we are guided by two broad principles:

• The first is that the evidence should clearly demonstrate a benefit to pupils and staff, in terms of health and learning. Whilst the social isolation protocols followed by schools so far are undoubtedly disruptive, we do not want to introduce a new system based on testing which ultimately does more harm than good.

• The second principle is that schools should only adopt the testing programme if they have the resources and logistical support to do so safely.

On this basis, we believe that there remain too many unanswered questions and testing in schools is not something that we will be taking forward in the short term.

In particular, we have concerns about the efficacy of the Lateral Flow testing devices and the appropriateness of their use in school settings.

We have, therefore, advised our schools that they should proceed with caution and:
• Continue to use the robust procedures for close-contact tracing that they already have in place for staff and pupils attending during the lockdown.
• Make use of lateral flow tests for staff only at the present time.
Clearly, this is a fast-changing situation and we will continue to review the available evidence and guidance from the government. We have agreed to meet with school leaders every week during January and will write to families again when further information is available.”

The letter is from Stuart Gallimore, Director of Children’s Services, and Director of Public Health Darrell Gale