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School Sports Hall turns Covid-19 test centre with 700 tests per day

Thomas Deacon Academy has transformed their sports hall into a Covid-19 testing facility, Principal Rick Carroll has confirmed.
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School Sports Hall turns Covid-19 test centre with 700 tests per day Photo: Supplied

When Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on Monday, February 22, that all students would be going back to school in March, Rick Carroll and his team planned a preparation meeting for Wednesday, February 24.

The decision was then taken to turn the sports hall into a Covid-19 testing site, as students were required to do three lateral flow tests per week.

52 members of staff volunteered to help run the testing site, including teaching assistants, librarians, and many others; with three tests needed, there are around 650 to 700 lateral flow tests conducted each day. In just under two weeks, TDA conducted 7,000 lateral flow tests. 

Speaking to Peterborough Matters, Principal Carroll said: "The staff have just been amazing. It’s really connected them. It’s a big school, and now people who never interacted know each other's names.  

"What we’ve done is a very tight schedule. We can process a test in approximately 3 minutes, we managed students and tutor groups coming down, maintained social distancing, had a one way in one way out process.

"We could do 14 test bays, there are around 30 students in a tutor group so that’s two lines of people going through 14 bays. The only consequence of all of it is that it’s taken us away from some of the things we would want to do, but we know it’s for the greater good. It’s part of the roadmap of reopening the country."

Mr Carroll added: "PE can still go ahead, we’re blessed by having other big spaces. We maximised the use of the astro-turf, on wet weather we can go to the climbing wall and then previous lockdowns when gyms could be used we have our gym.

"We made sure we had enough classrooms on standby and if the weather was bad we would do an additional healthy lifestyle lesson and we would look at bad habits, anything to do with healthy eating right through to the importance of exercise – even in lockdown PE lessons continued online through the help of the staff."

The testing site will remain in place while lateral flow tests are essential for students and staff.