Weekly Covid-19 testing to start in Northern Ireland special schools
PUPILS and staff at special schools are to receive weekly Covid-19 testing.
The initiative is being led by the Public Health Agency and will be rolled out next month.
While most children in mainstream education are learning from home, special schools remain open.
All asymptomatic staff and pupils attending special schools will be offered regular testing using a new technology called Lamp (loop-mediated isothermal amplification).
Lamp is a saliva-based test and is expected to be easier than swab testing for children.
Health minister Robin Swann said this was a significant development.
"The introduction of this new testing intervention for staff and pupils in special schools will allow positive cases to be identified early so that they and their contacts can isolate, helping to prevent further transmission of Covid-19 within these school settings," he said.
Education minister Peter Weir said there was a need for additional measures to support staff and students while special schools remained open.
The nature of special schools means that social distancing is difficult and it is important that staff are given every support possible to help them continue their vital and valuable work," Mr Weir said.
"Access to this testing programme will help provide additional reassurance to teaching staff, pupils and parents. I would encourage all staff and pupils to take the tests."