Mass Covid testing for Portsmouth and Hampshire pupils ahead of return to secondary school classrooms as headteachers prepare for challenges of a new term

A MAJOR Covid testing project is underway as schools across the Portsmouth area begin to welcome pupils back to the classroom today.

Headteachers at secondary schools say that they are ‘optimistic’ for the new term and ready to adapt to any new challenges thrown their way.

Back-to-school testing started this morning at The Cowplain School.

Headteacher Ian Gates said: ‘One year group who came in today have been tested and we’ll carry that on over the next day or two.

Headteacher Stewart Vaughan of Priory School. Picture: Habibur Rahman

‘Everyone will be fully in class by Thursday morning - it’s a staggered start with Year 7 today.

‘We are experienced now - this has been going on for two years.

‘We are a resilient school and we do the best we can to make it the best experience for the children.’

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Andy Grant, head of St Vincent College.

Priory School headteacher Stewart Vaughan said that all testing is being done today before students return to the classroom tomorrow.

He said: ‘Our ambition is to get over 1,000 students tested today and everybody fully back into classes tomorrow morning.

‘We are a testing centre today.

‘We’re optimistic but we have to temper that with some reservations - Omicron is worrying and we’re going to have to be adaptable.

Headteacher Chris Anders of Park Community School. Picture: Chris Moorhouse (090920-10)

‘Our starting position is to stay open every day and teach every single lesson.’

Head St Vincent Andy Grant, principal of St Vincent College, said ‘normal timetables’ will be resumed from Wednesday.

He added: ‘All students are being asked to do at home tests prior to coming in tomorrow.

‘We are also introducing face coverings and the safety measures we are being advised to follow.

‘We are always optimistic - it’s good to have students back in the classroom.

‘We do foresee some challenges but it is all part of the way we need to adapt to the current world. We are mindful of the fact that we have great responsibilities to the welfare of the students and staff.’

Chris Anders, headteacher at Park Community School, said: ‘We have got children in today and tomorrow and over the course of the two days everyone will come in for a test. Everyone will be in on Thursday.

‘Today we have got a tutor session reminding everyone of some expectations.

‘There are challenges each term at the moment.

‘This time last year, none of us would have expected we would still be testing - the unknown is the only thing we know.

‘It is frustrating that normal school life has been disrupted again but we are prepared to be able to change. Who knows what will happen next.’

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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