A HEADTEACHER is urging all children at his school to be tested for Covid-19 in a bid to cut the transmission of the virus in a number of hotpots in Basildon.

Gary Smith, headteacher of the Basildon Academies, says parents must play their part in fighting the rising rates in the borough - starting with finding asymptomatic cases.

It comes after Essex County Council bosses wrote to parents at the academies and Wickford’s Bromfords School urging them to get their children tested.

The infection rate in Basildon is now in the UK’s ten worst areas.

Mr Smith said: “I strongly urge our parents and carers to respond to the letter from Essex County Council and book a test for their child.

“This is a strategy in the local fight against coronavirus. We have experienced a number of asymptomatic cases being reported to us. These cases are the most difficult to deal with in terms of contact tracing.

“As a community working together, we can reduce the rate of infection, and protect the most vulnerable people within our in our town if we are able to identify asymptomatic individuals. It is important to stress the infections do not necessarily originate within any school environment.”

The school leader’s calls come after Gavin Callaghan, Labour leader of Basildon Council wrote to the county council asking for schools to be shut from December 11.

He says it will give a break period before the rules are relaxed for Christmas. Mr Callaghan has also repeatedly called for his authority to break away from control of the county council.

Mr Smith added: “I am confident our community will respond positively to these new strategies.

“Throughout the pandemic we have been inundated with messages of support from our families and I know we all want to play our part in protecting those most vulnerable and reducing the current infection rate in Basildon.

“The Upper and Lower Academies remain open for both on-site and remote learning.”

In a letter sent to Essex County Council’s public health director, Dr Mike Gogarty, Mr Callaghan called for all schools to close on December 11.

He also outlined a plan for Basildon’s manufacturing workers to be tested for coronavirus twice a week in a bid to keep factories working.

County council bosses responded with the announcement on school testing, while a mobile testing unit will also be rolled out in the borough.

Dr Mike Gogarty, Director of Public Health and Wellbeing at Essex County Council, said: “Encouraging parents and carers to book tests for their child if they attend one of the identified schools will help us to act more quickly and reduce the likelihood of cases spreading even further.”