CROPPED PIC Soldiers from 35 Engineer Regiment, Royal Engineers, being trained to conduct lateral flow testing for Covid-19 at Chattenden Community Centre, Kent, 041220 CREDIT MOD.jpg
Coronavirus

Coronavirus: Military To Support Students’ Testing In England

Members of the Armed Forces will help with the rollout of COVID-19 testing for secondary schools and colleges.

CROPPED PIC Soldiers from 35 Engineer Regiment, Royal Engineers, being trained to conduct lateral flow testing for Covid-19 at Chattenden Community Centre, Kent, 041220 CREDIT MOD.jpg

The Armed Forces will provide planning and training support with coronavirus testing to secondary schools and colleges in England at the start of the spring term.

Military personnel are on standby to roll out COVID-19 testing to students and staff as the new term begins next month.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said the Armed Forces are “stepping up once again”.

He said: “This week I have authorised over a thousand Armed Forces personnel to assist schools returning after the Christmas break.

“They’ll share considerable experience of testing across the country and the successful school pilots conducted this autumn.”

A total of 1,500 servicemen and women are being made available to support the Department for Education and the Department for Health and Social Care.

They will form local response teams and provide support and advice over the phone to education institutions needing guidance on testing and facilities set-up.

While this will mainly be done with webinars and individual meetings, teams are also on standby to deploy at short notice and offer in-person support.

Most military personnel will be on task from this week as they start to conduct training.

Testing is being offered to every secondary school and college in England, with £78 million funding to support this offer.

The Government will also provide schools and colleges with the kit they need and have introduced a staggered return at the start of term.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson called the move a “true cross-government effort”.

Mr Williamson said: “I am grateful to the Armed Forces personnel, and all the school and college staff, leaders and volunteers working to put testing in place.

“This will help break chains of transmission, fight the virus, and help deliver the national priority of keeping education open for all.”

In most cases, testing will be done by the students themselves under the supervision of a school staff member or volunteer trained for the role.

Support for this operation is being provided through the Military Aid to Civil Authorities (MACA) process.

Cover image: A library picture showing a member of the Armed Forces holding a COVID-19 test swab (Picture: MOD).