'Fantastic' to see more pupils return as Sunderland education bosses report 85 per cent Covid test compliance

An education chief has said “seeing more young people return to school today has been fantastic”.

Monday, 8th March 2021, 6:09 pm

Simon Marshall, the director of education services at Together for Children, which delivers children’s services for Sunderland City Council, has also encouraged families to take up the offer of having their children tested for coronavirus once they are back in schools.

While schools across the city were gradually welcoming back students to lessons from Monday, March 8, many pupils were invited in to begin taking two lateral flow tests last week with a third to follow this week.

These are advised to be followed by twice-weekly tests at home using home testing kits.

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Simon Marshall, left, director of education services at Together for Children, has encourage all parents to take up the offer of having their children tested for coronavirus. The Press Association picture, right, was not taken in Sunderland.

Mr Marshall said: “The response has been positive and we’d estimate around 85% compliance based on the conversations our team have had with schools directly.

"Whilst testing isn’t compulsory, we encourage all parents to take up the offer of testing.

"We want families across Sunderland to stay as safe as they can and regular testing at home is one of the best ways to do this

“Seeing more young people return to school today has been fantastic and our schools are working hard to ensure that schools remain the safest place for our children to be.

"We urge families to do their bit at home by taking the tests and helping to stop the spread of the virus.”

It will be first time many children have received face-to-face education since the first week of January.

Addressing a meeting of the council’s children, education and skills scrutiny committee last week, Mr Marshall said: “The group of children I’m most concerned about is our very youngest children, in our early years settings and our nursery and reception classes.

“That first three years of their education is vital in their development, their language acquisition, their socialising, their ability to develop relationships.

“That’s really difficult to do from home.

“Some of our young people taking GCSE courses who’ve had online teaching, they’ll have had very similar lessons to what they would normally have had, just through a computer rather than in the classroom.”

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