Over 100 staff and about 60 students tested for Covid-19 at Harborough secondary school – and they all proved negative

They are aiming to test every one of their 1,000 pupils - but the mass testing programme has been shelved for the moment due to the third national lockdown

Over 100 staff and about 60 students have been tested for Covid-19 at a Market Harborough secondary school – and they all proved negative.

Julie McBrearty, the principal at Welland Park Academy on Welland Park Road, was aiming to test every one of her 1,000 pupils for the coronavirus over the next few days and weeks.

But she’s been forced to shelve her mass testing programme at the school for the moment as the third national crackdown to beat the virus is launched and the scheme had to be torn up.

Welland Park Academy.

Julie told the Harborough Mail: “We were hoping to test all our staff and youngsters with the lateral flow test – and we had brought in 1.000 kits.

“The new lockdown has clearly put an end to that as we’ve had to close our school to everyone except vulnerable students and the children of critical workers.

“But at least we did manage to test our staff and the 60 or so pupils who were here in school with us on Tuesday.

“It’s a very slick, quick process.

“The recorder gets the result within 30 minutes of carrying out the test and the participant inside about 90 minutes.

“And it was a huge positive when none of them tested positive for Covid-19.”

She said they are now fully geared up to kickstart mass school-wide testing at Welland Park Academy as soon as they can.

“We are now in an excellent position to activate testing everyone here as soon as the lockdown is lifted.

“We will also continue to routinely test children who are coming in to be taught in class,” said Julie.

“Many of our teachers are still coming in – both to teach students here as well as youngsters remotely at home.

“We are now in a much stronger position to educate children at home than we were during the first lockdown last spring.

“It’s still not as good as seeing our students face-to-face here in the classroom, of course,” said Julie.

“But we have all learned from our cutting edge experiences of the last 10 months or so and we are better for it.”

Asked to sum up the general mood and spirit among her students after a surreal year, Julie replied: “Sheer frustration.

“So many were so looking forward to returning to school after the Christmas and New Year break.

“Our Year 11 children, who are aged 15 and 16, were due to start their mock GCSE exams this week.

“They have been working extraordinarily hard towards taking those – with some of our youngsters even working and revising on Christmas Day, they are that dedicated!

“Their mock exam grades are so important but now they are all off.

“So there is a lot of frustration and still so much uncertainty looking ahead.

“We are now waiting for more urgent clarification from the Government on this summer’s exams.

“Vocational exams, such as the BTec and Cambridge National tests, are still due to go ahead as we speak.

“But we don’t know anything for sure – and so much is changing all the time,” said Julie.

“I can reassure everyone, however, that we are fully prepared to reopen again when we do get the all-clear.

“We still have all the Covid safety signage up, our special zones are in place and we are still all wearing face coverings out in corridors and communal areas.

“So we will all do the best we can to carry on teaching our brilliant students both here and virtually until we get through this last coronavirus lockdown - and we can’t wait to reopen.”