A Return to School like no other

Alumnus Otis Van Dooren, Tyson’s, Class of 2012 and now External Events Coordinator at Alleyn’s tells us how his role changed when the Covid-19 pandemic hit and his role in bringing pupils and staff back to School:

In completely unpredictable and unexpected circumstances, we have achieved something of significant value and I am proud to be part of it. Following an eight-week absence from face-to-face learning, we realised our aim of bringing the pupil body safely back into on-site teaching at Alleyn’s School. Over a period of just nine days in March, we carried out 3,046 Lateral Flow Device Covid tests on pupils and staff alike, in a huge collaborative effort across multiple departments.  

Of course, preparations started long before then. From January we set up our Sports Hall to prepare for the testing effort, with our own Alleyn’s staff becoming willing volunteers upon whom we tried out various methods and experimented with ideas.








A team of four ASEL staff was tasked with learning the testing process, devising the most efficient way to manage the facility and then rolling out training sessions to other departments. In just a matter of days we had increased our numbers to a 38-strong group of Test Assistants, Processors and Coordinators. The people who would now be responsible for religiously adhering to NHS and Government guidance on the Lateral Flow Device testing process – not to mention dressing head to toe in PPE for hours at a time. I must make a special mention of Ben Musson from our IT Department, who singlehandedly built a database used to track test results from anyone visiting Alleyn’s own Asymptomatic Testing Site. 

We put in a huge amount of practice into readying ourselves for the first Year 10 pupil to walk through our door on Thursday 4 March. That day we completed 530 tests on pupils – the process ran so smoothly we were almost alarmed by its efficiency. This trend continuing until Tuesday 16 March, when the final Year 8 pupil left the building, and we breathed a communal sigh of relief. 








This great feat was only possible thanks to a huge amount of help from support staff across a number of departments. My thanks go out to everyone involved, no matter how minor their part may have been.  

Without exception, everyone’s enthusiasm, reliability, and absolute willingness to have a go and get on with the task resulted in a fantastic collaborative achievement and one I am proud to have been a part of.