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NEXT OLYMPIC ATHLETES: Gold medal winning swimmer, Matt Richards, talks finding the sporting stars of tomorrow.


MATT RICHARDS: For thousands of children up and down the country, the return to school doesn't just mean a return to education - it means a return to the hobbies they love too.

In a year where we've seen countless huge sporting events returning to the calendar after the pandemic, sports stars know only too well how important their school years were in getting them into their chosen field.

Matt's face may be a familiar one to you if you kept up with the action in Tokyo this year. He added a gold medal to Team GB's sixty-five strong medal total at this years Olympic Games in the Japanese capital. And he did it all while juggling studying for his A levels in the middle of a pandemic. Matt Richards says how fundamental a return to the classroom will be for finding the next sporting stars.

After using a make-shift set up in his parents garden during lockdown, Matt was able to return to training for the games in public pools thanks to rigorous covid testing procedures - and he thinks the same can work in schools too.

Department for Education (DfE) guidance states that secondary school and college pupils in England should be tested twice on-site on their return, with lateral flow tests carried out between three and five days apart.

Pupils should then continue to test twice weekly at home until the end of September, when the policy will be reviewed.

Schools and colleges in England are also being encouraged to maintain increased hygiene and ventilation from September, but year group “bubbles” and face covering requirements have been removed.

Education unions have called for more action from the Government to ensure schools are kept as safe as possible and education is not disrupted further.

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), told PA: “We know from last term’s experience that the take-up of twice-weekly testing at home was patchy, despite the best efforts of schools and colleges to encourage this control measure.

“We would urge the Government to do more to get the message out about the importance of carrying out these tests. It is vital that they are used in order to detect asymptomatic cases before they come into the school environment with the potential for transmission and resulting disruption.”

But for those still apprehensive about covid transmission rates now schools are back, Dr Ranj Singh, Consultant Paediatrician and TV Presenter, says the key is keeping safe outside of school - and of course getting your coronavirus vaccination.

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