The DfE has today (Wednesday, February 24) confirmed to ISC that schools and colleges in England may start testing students and pupils before March 8, 2021, if they would like to do so.
Unfortunately, this does not provide any clarity in getting boarders back before March 8, 2021.
The DfE statement says:
A number of schools and colleges have asked whether they can start testing pupils and students the week before Monday 8 March to help manage the flow of pupils and students through on-site assisted test sites (ATS).
Schools and colleges may start testing students and pupils before Monday 8 March if they would like to do so. This is voluntary and at the discretion of each school or college. Asymptomatic testing is an important tool for helping to break the chains of transmission of the virus and so students and pupils may go to school or college specifically for a test before Monday 8 March if their school or college offers to test them.
Students must maintain social distance and must go home after their test result if the test is before Monday 8 March.
Students and pupils will still need to do 3 tests on-site (ATS), each 3 to 5 days apart, before moving to home-testing. Schools and colleges should not start home testing students and pupils before the week beginning Monday 15 March.
Schools and colleges will need to consider the transport implications of testing before Monday 8 March.