Rossendale's largest high school will have carried out more than 4,000 Covid-19 tests in the first two weeks of students returning.

At Haslingden High School, the gym was transformed into a 10-bay efficient testing station, thanks to the help of 22 volunteers and several members of staff.

Student Services Officer Jo Shepherd became Covid-19 Team Leader to ensure all the systems and processes were put in place to ensure the safe, the smooth running of the station.

The first tests for Years 11, 12 and 13 were carried out on Monday March 8, then Years 9 and 10 on March 9 and Years 7 and 9 on March 10.

One of Year 8 pupils, George Phillips, 13, who returned to school last week said: “I have had a few of these tests before, when I had Covid-like symptoms and when I was in hospital with an eye problem. They have always come back negative. The mouth swab is fine, but the nose one makes my eyes water.

“When they said we could come back into school I was relieved. My favourite subject is history, 100 per cent. My mother is a historian and we have been to the First World War battlefields and the Commonwealth Graveyards and my History teacher, Mr Gizzi, makes it really fun.

“When we all finally returned last Thursday, it was weird going back into the classroom as my comfortable chair had been replaced by a plastic one and a plastic desk.

“The working environment is so much better in school than at home on Zoom. At home I couldn’t concentrate.”

Parents had to give permission for the tests to take place and all students returned home after their first test whilst the results were obtained. When the students returned a negative result, they were able to return to study full-time in school the following day.

Jo said: “It was not until the Thursday of the first week that we had all of the students back in. This Monday we were running the last of the second tests, for Years 7 and 8 and then from Tuesday we started the third lot of testing for Years 11, 12 and 13.

“From Friday, the students will switch to being tested at home and the school will provide parents with test kits that last three-and-a-half weeks, with two tests to be carried out each week, ideally on Sundays and Thursdays.

“The results will need to be logged online and the school will have access to that information.

“We have been using lateral flow tests in school with results coming back in 20-30 minutes. A positive test would result in the student being sent home to isolate.

“We even had a volunteer who works for the Test and Trace service and he was very interested to see how our station operates.”

One of the volunteers helping to run the testing bays is Dee Mellish, who has two children, one of whom attends the school.

She said: “I am a freelance Spanish teacher and a full-time mother. I volunteered because I just wanted to help. I want the help the school to get back to normal.”