A head teacher has urged pupils to take a Covid test as part of a mass testing scheme for secondary school children in parts of London, Kent and Essex.
Ges Smith, head teacher at Jo Richardson Community School in east London, said extra tests for schools in the worst-affected areas of the three counties had been “a long time coming”.
East London and the parts of Kent and Essex that border it have become one of the major Covid hotspots in England.
Mr Smith said tests were not mandatory.
“As far as I know we have got no mandate on forcing students to take that test,” he told BBC Breakfast.
However, he added that he would be writing to students at his school in Dagenham to inform them of the testing process and “strongly encourage them to take that test”.
“Our job is education, our job is making sure that they have the facts in front of them to make an informed decision,” he said.
Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said the aim of increasing testing in the affected areas was to keep children in school and ensure schools “continue to be a safe place”.
Asked why England was not following Wales’ decision to move all classes online for secondary schools and further education colleges from Monday, Mr Dowden told BBC Breakfast the government’s priority was to keep schools open.