The Chichester MP was speaking after visiting the testing facilities at Havant and South Downs College where students were undertaking lateral flow tests before returning after lockdown.
Mrs Keegan said: ‘The testing facility at the college is brilliant. It looked like a medical facility and I’m confident that when students return it will be for good. Young people need to be back in the classroom and that is what we are going to ensure happens.’
Following three tests in college students will then be responsible for taking two weekly Covid tests at home where they will be expected to inform the college of any positive results before going into a 10-day isolation period. The MP is confident that young people will take this responsibility seriously.
Mrs Keegan added: ‘It’s not simply a case of giving out home tests as for every test issued a set of results needs to be uploaded onto a database. This is all part of a community responsibility and I’m confident that young people will take this seriously.
‘I think testing will become part of the new norm in the same way as wearing masks. Employers are also already using the tests which could also be used to help open up other parts of society.’
It’s a sentiment shared by student Macy Harris who said: ‘The tests make me feel safer to come back to college and I can’t wait to see my friends.’
Mrs Keegan also looked to reassure students about the awarding of grades after the cancellation of formal summer examinations.
Childcare student Daisy Croxford said: ‘It was good to speak with minister Keegan and I’m now very confident in the way I will be assessed in my T Level. I know the teachers have worked so hard to give us assessments and work that will represent our overall grade.’
College principal Mike Gaston is also hopeful the new testing regime will ensure the permanent return of face to face teaching.
He said: ‘We’re excited to be able to welcome students back to all campuses. It has been challenging putting the testing regime in place to accommodate the high volume of students but the end result of having them being back for face-to-face learning makes it all very worthwhile.
‘That is very much down to the dedication of staff across the college and I would very much like to thank all of them.’
‘It was great that minister Keegan visited our South Downs campus and was able to speak with staff and students and indeed thank them for their efforts.’