Secondary school pupils will have to do a lateral flow test in school before they can return to lessons this week.

Ledbury’s John Masefield High School has been using its inset day (today, January 4) to set up a Covid testing site and was due to carry out on-site tests for years 11, 12 and 13 this afternoon.

As long as they return negative tests, those pupils will be able to return to lessons tomorrow as scheduled, while years 7, 8, 9 and 10 will come into school to be tested.

In a letter sent to parents, the school said students would carry out the tests themselves under supervision by trained staff.

The letter also states that tests are voluntary but that pupils are “strongly encouraged” to take them in order to keep the school community and families safe.

Newent Community School and Sixth Form Centre is also reinstating its Covid testing site and confirmed in a letter to parents that pupils in years 7, 8, 11, 12 and 13 would be doing lateral flow tests on Thursday, January 6.

Year 8 and 9 pupils are being set online learning tasks for Thursday and will return to school on Friday, January 7, when they will be tested before returning to lessons.

Students are also being asked to do a lateral flow test the night before returning to school and to continue testing twice weekly at home, reporting all results to NHS Test and Trace and via the school’s online reporting form.

In line with the latest Government guidance, pupils at both schools will be expected to wear face masks unless they are medically exempt.

Education secretary Nadhim Zahawi has said face coverings will be a requirement in schools until January 26, when Plan B Covid measures expire. The Government is expected to review the regulations in the coming days.

The majority of secondary school pupils are also being encouraged to get fully vaccinated. Children aged 12 to 15 can get two doses of the vaccine, while 16 and 17-year-olds are eligible for booster jabs.