Dear [Name of MP]
I am writing as a parent, voter and supporter of campaign group UsforThem to ask that you call for an end the programme of mass testing healthy school children for covid, which I believe is causing significant interruption to their education as well as having a negative impact on their well-being.
Please could you request the evidence behind the Government’s decision to continue this policy, as well as a cost-benefit analysis that takes into account the risk of harm to children’s mental health and social development of an intrusive measure such as routine medical testing. If no such analysis has been performed, I would like to know if and when this is planned.
In the House of Commons on 14 September 2021, Health Secretary Sajid Javid made the following statement in response to a question by Mark Harper MP on when the Government would end the mass testing of healthy schoolchildren:
“Asymptomatic testing of schoolchildren is planned to continue this month. I am not aware whether a final decision has been made on whether we will continue beyond that, and that is something on which my Department consults the Department for Education. My right hon. Friend’s general point is that we should end such testing as soon as we can, especially if we believe it is not making much of a difference. Of course, we keep the issue under review, and if we continue with it, it must be supported by the evidence.”
We note the following Government guidance, ‘COVID-19 Response: Autumn and Winter Plan 2021’, published that same day (14 September):
“Testing in education settings has played an important role in identifying positive cases since the start of this year, helping reduce the spread by removing infected individuals from the classroom or lecture hall. In secondary schools, further education and higher education, the Government expects that testing for students will continue for the rest of this term. This will be a valuable tool in minimising the overall disruption to education, and is particularly helpful for this cohort, given its current lower level of vaccine-based protection.” 
Please could you ask the Government to provide the evidence underpinning the above assertions that mass asymptomatic testing of children is a ‘valuable tool’ to minimise disruption to education, and helps to ‘reduce the spread’ of covid. I am particularly interested in seeing real-world evidence, and not just hypothetical modelled scenarios, of any significant contribution the school testing programme, has made to reducing transmission in school children, and how this has impacted hospitalisations.
Note that the Government’s statement above from the Autumn and Winter Plan directly contradicts the view of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, which wrote on 13 September that rather than minimise disruption, mass testing in schools is actually a cause of disruption as it negatively impacts school attendance. This is exemplified by the following two quotes:
“Routine testing of children without symptoms is still interrupting children and teenagers’ school attendance and we do not believe this should continue. Instead, schoolchildren should be tested only if they have symptoms of COVID-19. At the same time, and as with other infections, they should not go to school if they are unwell.” 
Dr Camilla Kingdon, the president of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health:
“We want schools to be enabled to rethink their approach to managing Covid. Children and teenagers need to focus on their education and school attendance must be encouraged without being interrupted by routine testing of asymptomatic children and teenagers. 
Last Sunday was World Mental Health Day and yet we know that the mental health of children has been severely impacted by the pandemic restrictions – the Covid-19 Psychological Research Consortium found amongst 13-18-year-olds a six-fold increase in abnormal anxiety levels and a three-fold increase in abnormal depression levels. It also reported that up to 50% of young people in the UK were feeling more anxious than before the pandemic and closure of schools. The Government’s decision to continue its mass testing policy is set to exacerbate these already high levels of anxiety and depression among children and young people. Intrusive routine medical tests are harmful to children’s emotional well-being and social development, as this policy teaches children “to be both wary of others and to consider themselves a danger to their friends, family and the wider community”.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid said in July that we need to “learn to live with” the virus, that despite increases in case numbers, “We are not seeing a corresponding increase in hospitalisations and death numbers. And that is because the vaccine is working, that is what the vaccine is for. And we can’t live in a world where the only thing we are thinking about is covid and not about all the other health problems, not about our economic problems, or education challenges.”
Thankfully, children are rarely seriously ill from covid and the overall link between hospitalisations and deaths is severed. Learning to live with the virus means not subjecting our children to intrusive weekly testing, which is doing more harm than good to both their attendance and their well-being.
I urge you to call for an end to the harmful policy of mass testing our healthy children, and give our young people the normality and stability they need to flourish.
[Name AND address]
 Clinical Psychologist Dr. Zenobia Storah, comment to UsforThem, August 2021