Teachers: Coronavirus

Department for Education written question – answered on 20th July 2020.

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Photo of Rachael Maskell Rachael Maskell Shadow Minister (Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether teachers will be given access to weekly covid-19 diagnostic testing from September 2020.

Photo of Rachael Maskell Rachael Maskell Shadow Minister (Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether teachers will be given access to covid-19 antibody tests from September 2020.

Photo of Daisy Cooper Daisy Cooper Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Justice), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of providing anti-body tests to all staff working in schools.

Photo of Nick Gibb Nick Gibb Minister of State (Education)

Testing for COVID-19 is most effective for those who are experiencing symptoms. The test is less likely to pick up a positive case in someone who is not displaying symptoms, meaning that there is a risk of providing false reassurance. Routine asymptomatic testing is in place in environments where the risk of transmission is higher, such as hospitals and adult care homes. There are no plans to extend this to schools. As essential workers, teachers and all staff working in education or childcare have priority access to a test if they display symptoms of COVID-19.

In order to determine the role that antibody tests could play in the response to the outbreak, we need a greater understanding of how the immune system responds to the virus. For example, it is not currently known how long an antibody response to the virus lasts, nor whether having antibodies means a person cannot be re-infected or transmit the virus to others. The Government will make decisions about any expansion of antibody testing based on the science as it becomes clear.

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