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Girl, 7, can't go back to school until she tests negative – but can't get a test

A mum says she fears for her seven-year-old daughter’s education after a Government testing ‘shambles’ left her and hundreds of other children in a ‘Catch 22’ scenario.

Tracy Schonenberger’s daughter Megan is off school with a sore throat, a small cough and aching limbs – just one week after returning for the new school year, following five months away from the classroom in lockdown.

Current government guidelines mean she can’t go back to the classroom until she gets a negative coronavirus test result – but the desperate family has been unable to get one for four days now.

Thousands of families are believed to be stuck in the exact same impossible situation, with headteachers warning education will ‘grind to a halt’ over Autumn if more tests are not made available to pupils and teachers.

Speaking to Metro.co.uk, Tracy, 40, from Braintree, Essex, says she has tried every method available to get a test, looking online at least six times a day.

She said: ‘We’ve tried everything but there are no tests anywhere. We’ve been ringing 119 but we were put on hold for hours every time.

‘We finally got through last night, but they just told us there are no tests available and to try again the next morning. We rang again today, only to be told there are still no home tests.

‘They’ve said there are no appointments in testing centres in the local area and there are no walk-ins. It’s been four days, we don’t really know what to do anymore.’


Meghan had only been back at school seven days before she came down with symptoms on Saturday.

Stay-at-home Tracy suspects her daughter only has a cold, but the family has been isolating in case it is Covid-19.

With new school guidelines set to remain in place indefinitely and Matt Hancock admitting the testing shortage will take ‘weeks’ to resolve, she is now questioning how much classroom time her daughter stands to lose out on.

The mum-of-three said: ‘She was only back seven days and was absolutely loving it. She had just started junior school so it was already a big change for her and now she can’t go back until she gets a negative test.

‘I just can’t even comprehend the idea that this might happen over and over again across the school year. I’m worried for her education.

There were reportedly no tests available in any of England’s top 10 coronavirus hotspots – Bolton, Salford, Bradford, Blackburn, Oldham, Preston, Pendle, Rochdale, Tameside and Manchester – yesterday.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock admitted in the Commons this afternoon tests would have to go to priority groups first following ‘operational challenges’.

However, the politician insisted the average distance travelled to a test site is now 5.8 miles, down from 6.4 miles last week, with the UK ’doing more testing per head of population than almost any other major nation’.

A Government spokesperson said testing capacity is ‘the highest it has ever been’, but added there has recently been ‘a significant demand for tests’.

They said: ‘It is vital that children and school staff only get a test if they develop coronavirus symptoms.

‘If a positive case is confirmed in a school, swift action is being taken to ask those who have been in close contact to self-isolate, and Public Health England’s local health protection teams continue to support and advise schools in this situation.

‘Children who are self-isolating will receive remote education. We will continue to work with schools to ensure all appropriate steps are taken to keep pupils and staff safe.’

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