Gove says full reopening of schools is the plan ‘for the moment’

Hundreds of military personnel assist schools with coronavirus tests

Armed Forces are deployed to assist in coronavirus testing operations for thousands of high school and college students in England as schools prepare for the New Year's introduction of Covid-19 testing.

The Department of Defense (MoD) announced that 1,500 military personnel would be drafted to ensure the test systems are operational for the new term.

At the beginning of the next semester, plans were announced for a round of mass tests for secondary school and college students to facilitate return to school.

As the test preps for the next month, the majority of military personnel will form local response teams to provide support and telephone advice to institutions that need assistance with the testing process and setting up the test facilities.

According to the Department of Defense, support from military personnel will be "mostly through webinars and one-on-one meetings," but teams would also be on hand to provide short-term personal assistance.

Students, in the vast majority of cases, will wipe themselves under the supervision of a school staff or volunteer trained for the role, and teachers are not expected to play a role in the testing process.

The Defense Department added that schools and colleges would shortly receive more information on how to request additional assistance if necessary.

The decision follows successful test pilots carried out in schools in November and December. The work is being carried out in cooperation with the Ministry of Education (DfE) and the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs (DHSC).

The armed forces had previously been enlisted to help with mass tests with pilots in Liverpool in November.

"The British armed forces are strengthening themselves again this holiday," said Defense Secretary Ben Wallace. "You will share considerable experience with tests across the country and the successful school pilots that ran this fall."

Meanwhile, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said, "It is a real intergovernmental effort to ensure that secondary schools and colleges have the support, guidance, materials and resources they need to provide quick tests to their staff and students from the start of the term.

"I am grateful to the armed forces personnel and to all school and college staff, leaders and volunteers working to conduct tests. This will help break chains of transmission, fight the virus and meet the national priority of keeping education open . " for all."

The government has announced that most secondary and college students in England will be returning to classes would be staggered in the first week of January to support the introduction of mass testing for students while elementary schools would return as usual.

Michael Gove cast doubt on the full reopening of schools On Monday, government scientists reportedly recommended keeping schools close to prevent the coronavirus from spiraling out of control. The cabinet minister said discussions were being held with school principals and teachers to ensure the plans were "right and robust".

A meeting between ministers, Downing Street officials and the Department of Education (DfE) was held on Monday, but the DfE refused to comment on its outcome.

Additional coverage by the Press Association

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