A London headteacher plans to buy private coronavirus tests for her staff because so many are isolating and unable to come into school until they get a negative test result.
Bethany Dawson, of Sutton High School, said eight of her teachers had been stuck at home because they could not get hold of a coronavirus test. They did not have symptoms but members of their families did so they must isolate until they get a negative result.
Ms Dawson tried to book NHS tests on behalf of her staff every two hours through the night but was unsuccessful.
She said: “We are almost at the stage where we don’t know how we are going to put people in front of the classes. Of course we will have to manage it — we will have to buy cover and put classes together. But there is a point at which you get to a critical mass of the number of staff who are self-isolating.”
She added that some parents at the private all-girls school are also being forced to pay for private tests after their children have been sent home with coughs or temperatures, because otherwise the entire family has to isolate.
She added: “Last night I set my alarm for every two hours so I could log onto the website to try and get a test for a member of staff, but I couldn’t get one.”
The £17,000-a-year school was sent 10 tests by the Government. Three of the tests were unusable as they did not contain a vial, and two of the results had not come back a week after being sent.
Ms Dawson said: “We have put every single safety measure in place. We invested heavily in getting ready to open and to think the infrastructure is not there to help keep us going is frustrating. It is this one thing that is outside our control which is causing us problems.”
She added: “We are looking into buying private tests today… Across the country hundreds of thousands of people must be missing from schools. And we are only in week one. As winter goes on it is not going to be a pleasant experience, unless they can seriously get the testing in place.”