Uppingham School, based in Leicestershire, has unveiled its own industry-leading COVID test and trace system, which aims to ensure all of its students can return to the classroom in September.
The school has recently written to its pupils' parents and families outlining how it intends to fully reopen after the summer holidays. Uppingham has explained that it intends to purchase its own supply of antigen and antibody testing kits so that any pupils or teachers displaying symptoms can be swiftly tested and isolated, keeping risk to a minimum.
Dr Richard Maloney, the school's Headmaster, agrees with government guidelines stating that it is safe to return to school. He explains, "We became conscious quite quickly when we read the research that schools can be made safe places. It has become obvious that children are relatively unaffected by coronavirus. We were conscious that the damage done to children academically, psychologically, and socially by not being at school was far worse.”
Furthermore, Uppingham School intends to use the Government’s five Covid-19 alert levels to inform the level of precautions it takes. For example, under the official alert system, Level One means that Covid-19 is no longer present in the UK and no social distancing is required. Conversely, Level Five indicates there is a "material risk of healthcare services being overwhelmed", and requires extremely strict social distancing. Uppingham’s planning document aaplies a different school regime depending on whinc level of alert the UK is currently under. The implications range from encouraging pupils to act “responsibly” at Level One, to the school closing at Level Five.
“The Covid alert scale from the Government was really useful. It has a clarity about it which meant we could plan,” Dr Maloney said.
“One of the things that really held us up as a country in February and March was a no testing system, which meant people were isolating perhaps unnecessary. Our plan is come September to be in a position to test pupils and staff quickly and accurately.”