ILKLEY Grammar School is on the verge of completing the mass Covid testing programme which has enabled students to return to school.

The school was overwhelmed by the response from the local community after it put out a call for volunteers to support staff. Ninety people volunteered in total, including parents and grandparents.

The IGS site team converted the school sports hall into a testing centre with 11 booths each intended to test 10 students per hour over six hours enabling the school to achieve its daily target of around 650 individual tests. Changing rooms were also converted to enable members of the team to put on and take off their PPE. Each day, a daily team of around 35 staff and volunteers worked together to meet and greet students, register them, supervise the testing process, process the Lateral Flow tests, and record the results which were then uploaded to the NHS website.

The blend of volunteers with IGS staff on a rota enabled the school to open to 650 returning students each day from March 8 with the school fully open on the morning of March 11.

Carly Purnell, Headteacher, said: “I am immensely proud to be Headteacher of a school which is genuinely at the heart of its community. With the help of our 82 parent and community volunteers, and the commitment and determination of IGS staff, we have set up a robust asymptomatic testing programme and will have delivered over 5600 tests in nine days of testing. This is a phenomenal achievement, and I am incredibly grateful to all the staff and volunteers who have really gone the extra mile to make this happen. Thank you!”

One parent stated: “I am over-awed at the sterling effort which has been made to ensure that the entire Covid testing process is seamless for the children at IGS. As if the year has not been difficult enough for the education profession, the job of Covid testers was thrust upon the team. The set up in the hall and the efficiency with which it runs is a true testimony to the dedication of staff and volunteers.”

Another parent of a year 9 student added: “Under impossible circumstances, IGS have set up a brilliant and efficient testing system and I thought that needed to be acknowledged. Well done to teachers, admin support and your volunteers.”

A school spokesperson added: “The school would like to offer its heartfelt thanks to all the volunteers, including those whose kind offer we were not able to take up. Some volunteers came in on their day off from the NHS front line, former IGS teachers returned as volunteers and current teachers and associate staff, including science technicians, offered free periods and to come in on their days off to help the effort.

“Many students were understandably nervous about the return and the requirement to be tested before going back into lessons for the first time since December but once again their resilience shone through as nerves turned into relief once it was over.”