As schools set out to reopen in the UK a new problem is presenting itself. As many as 25,000 teachers in the UK are now being ordered to self-isolate and stay at their homes.
This is happening after teaching union leaders issued warnings of a new lockdown after thousands of students got sent home from schools when they began displaying coronavirus symptoms.
But since the government has prioritized testing for NHS staff over all others, it has prevented teachers and students from being able to get tested for coronavirus and has therefore made such teachers and students forced to stay at home without having proof for the infection.
Teaching Unions are reporting that about a 5th of their total staff is being forced to stay at home which is an indicator that the crisis was spiraling out of control.
Due to such issues, headteachers are pleading the government to make the education sector a priority and increase testing availability for teachers since the crisis is adversely affecting staffing.
As many as 740 educational institutes have been shut down in the UK, sending students back home out of fear of the latest coronavirus outbreaks. Some schools on the other hand have ended up sending entire batches back.
Comparatively, there are a few private schools that pay about £120 to ensure testing of their teachers and students who have coronavirus symptoms.
One private school teacher revealed that schools were able to afford the coronavirus crisis hence private companies shouldn’t have trouble giving out tests.
Another issue however is surfacing since the 10 testing kits from the government provided to state schools are running out fast at the very beginning of this year’s term. No matter the size of the school, the testing kits are proving little in number compared to their need of use.
The testing crisis has led headteachers to join forces in writing a letter addressed to the MPs, responsible for above 16,000 students these teachers are taking matters into their own hands trying to inform the government about the challenges they are facing.
Gateshead has now garnered such a high rate of coronavirus infection that it has landed itself on the government list of high-risk spaces. According to school leaders, the absence of sufficient testing will lead to the end of some schools.
The letter by school heads represented as many as 67 schools included important issues the schools are experiencing due to the absence of testing.
Mustafa Malik is the chair of the association and also the head of Harlow Green School. He says it is difficult to maintain the front of schools being a safe space for children to parents when nearly a 5th of their staff is isolating besides the double number of students. Despite the reassurances that are being provided to parents, the current state is leading to an accumulation of fear.
Today therefore the government is trying to tackle the crisis by updating a list of those groups that may enjoy prioritized testing and should be offered testing first.
This however still can cause problems because schools, as well as school staff, are ranked below high-risk spaces such as hospitals and care homes and this, therefore, may further delay testing for them. Therefore a lack of coronavirus testing is proving to be a big problem for schools across the UK.