A COUNCIL chief has urged the government to confirm how Covid-19 testing will be delivered in schools in the new year.

From January, lateral flow tests will be deployed to all secondary schools and colleges in England to help detect asymptomatic cases, the government announced on Tuesday.

All staff will be eligible for weekly rapid tests as part of the initial roll-out. Students will be eligible for daily testing for seven days if they are identified as a close contact of someone who has tested positive.

Under current guidelines, up to a whole school bubble has to self-isolate if one student or staff member tests positive. But from January, those in the same bubble do not need to self-isolate if they agree to be tested once a day.

Primary schools will also be supported to roll out testing over the spring term.

Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said the scheme will help identify asymptomatic cases and protect the wider community beyond the school gates.

But Cllr Hannah Clare, chairwoman of the council’s Children, Young People and Skills committee in Brighton and Hove, said not enough information has been given on the funding arrangements for the rapid testing programme.

She said: “This announcement is putting huge extra pressures on headteachers at the last minute, without any detail about the financial and operational support behind it.

“School staff should not be expected to run these tests. Providing testing kits without trained staff to use them is simply not right.

“There has also been no concrete information yet about how schools are expected to pay for the delivery of this testing programme.

“Our schools are under intense financial pressures. It’s vital that they are not forced to divert any more scarce resources away from their core work of delivering the curriculum.”