Once again, our school community has risen to meet with challenges, this time giving their time to help the school create an efficient COVID testing process compliant with Government guidelines.

Back at the start of January, before Boris Johnson announced that England would begin a third national lockdown, the school’s events team set about putting in place plans to test all boys and staff on a weekly basis. With over 1,100 boys and more than 475 members of staff, it would be a huge logistical task and it soon became apparent that help was needed.

Hugh Maltby, Director of Bedford School Association, stepped in to help galvanise wider support and in a letter to parents, past parents and Old Bedfordians, Andy Macfarlane, Director of Finance and Operations, asked for volunteers to help assist with the roles required and be part of the school’s testing team.

We were delighted, therefore, when 191 members of the school community came forward to offer their time to support the school and indeed benefit the wider public.

Hugh Maltby told us, “Like it did with the Captain Tom sorting office, the school community has once again stepped forward, this time ensuring the boys can resume their classroom learning. We’d like to express our sincere gratitude to everyone involved.”

No sooner had planning started, the news of a third national lockdown broke, which meant boys and staff would once again work and learn from home.

While this resulted in a scaled-down operation to begin with, as only a skeleton staff, key worker children and some overseas boarders remained in school, there was still a mammoth task ahead to make sure that testing was set up in line with guidelines, health and safety regulations and was appropriately risk-assessed.   

Donna Peters, Events Officer, with the help of Karoline Jeffery, Reprographics and Admin Assistant, were at the helm of the operation from day one and saw to it that a robust and slick testing system was put in place ready for when the school reopened.

Karoline said, “Having the time during lockdown to run a small Lateral Flow Device (LFD) testing centre prepared us to deliver a safe and professional mass testing programme. This enabled the boys and staff to return to school on 8 March”.

Volunteers are spending their time carrying out a variety of jobs between them, rotating to break up the long days which often start at 9am and finish at 4.30pm. Tasks include managing registrations, helping boys and staff to take their samples, processing the tests, and helping make sure the environment is kept tidy and sterile throughout.

Emma O’Dell, one of the parent volunteers, told of her experience, “It was brilliantly organised, it felt very professional, and I never felt like I was in danger of catching anything as the hygiene routines were excellent. The boys were great; they didn’t complain or make a fuss. They laughed at their sneezing, were polite and very matter of fact about the whole experience.”

While all the volunteers and staff have a huge responsibility with the task in hand, new friends are being made and relationships are being forged as they work together as one very efficient team, with willingness and cheer.

Thank you to every single volunteer and staff member involved, and those who continue to ensure that boys and staff are tested regularly. Your professionalism and expertise has been outstanding.

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