School pupils will be tested for coronavirus at one of the city’s three rapid testing sites, or at the school itself, before they return to class on 8 March.
York schools have proven throughout the pandemic that they are safe, the city’s public health director said, adding that there have been very few infections in educational settings.
Under the plans all secondary school and college students will take three Covid-19 tests as they return to class – then students will be given two tests each week to use at home.
Maxine Squire, the council’s director of education, said all parents and carers will be contacted by their school about testing and pupils returning to class.
“The city’s head teachers are very ready to have all their children back in school,” she said.
“Top of the list for secondary head teachers is making sure that they are able to offer testing to all children. We are working on the details for that at the moment with the public health team.”
Students are likely to be asked to book in for a Covid-19 rapid test at either the University of York, York St John University or Community Stadium sites for their first tests. Some pupils will be asked to get a test at their school.
But the weekly tests can be done at home. Director of public health Sharon Stoltz said guidance and a video on home testing will be provided – but any parents or carers who are worried about home testing will get support.
She said: “Throughout the pandemic we have demonstrated in York that schools are safe places for children to be. We have had very few infections in schools in York.
“The testing when children first go back to school will be under supervision – either at one of the testing sites or under supervision in the school. School staff have been trained on how to take and read the tests.”
“But after that, the government’s intention is that home testing is undertaken.
“Part of the work over the next couple of weeks will be looking at what support we can give to parents and carers about doing those home tests.
“We already have lots of materials we can use including a video that can help parents with understanding how to do that test at home.
“For any parents that are worried about that, part of the work will be making sure we have got arrangements in place to support those parents who don’t feel comfortable about doing the test at home, that they can still access the school or community testing sites.”
Primary school and secondary school staff will take a Covid-19 test twice a week at home.
Government says schools will have the discretion to choose how to test students over the first week back to enable their return to the classroom.
Government has also advised that staff and students in secondary schools and colleges should wear face coverings in all areas, including classrooms, where social distancing cannot be maintained.