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Staff and pupils from two schools in Limavady are participating in an NHS Covid-19 testing scheme which begins today.

St Mary’s Limavady and Limavady High School have been selected as part of a UK-wide programme which was announced in October.

Education Minister Peter Weir said: “I welcome this initiative where pupils and staff, without symptoms, will be tested on a voluntary basis and I want to thank both schools for taking part.

“Along with the other measures schools and colleges are taking, it is hoped that these tests will help reduce the risk of people without symptoms transmitting the virus. Positive cases of the virus could be identified which may otherwise have been missed.

“The test will be supervised by trained staff and I expect there to be minimal disruption to lessons. Keeping our schools safe during the pandemic remains my top priority and I will continue to support schools in the months ahead.”

The testing is initially being offered to all staff and students in years 12, 13 and 14 in both schools.

Health Minister Robin Swann said: “Work is progressing with a variety of local partners and experts on New Testing Interventions (NTIs) for a range of settings including this schools’ initiative.

“The learning arising from the NTIs will help us to better understand how new technologies can be implemented and extended more widely across settings. It is important to be aware that these NTIs are still at an early stage of development, and consequently these new tests must be rolled out with careful planning and evaluation.

“I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Limavady High School and St Mary’s for their participation, and I would particularly like to thank the team in the Public Health Agency who have developed and are leading this NTI and colleagues in the Education Authority who continue to be instrumental in driving this important work forward.”