Random drug tests on students in Tai Po under a voluntary scheme proposed by the government will not occur until December at the earliest because more preparation is needed before it becomes a reality, Action Committee Against Narcotics chairman Daniel Shek Tan-lei says. 'Schools will have to brief students and parents about the scheme's operation and parental approval has to be obtained once the new school year starts in September,' Professor Shek said. Although the drug scheme would be launched next month, 'the actual testing action will not start till the end of the year, probably around December', he said. Kwok Wing-keung, chairman of the Association of Secondary School Heads, Tai Po district, said discussions with the government on the parameters and content of the scheme would end soon. 'The government will announce details of the scheme very soon,' Mr Kwok said. Students randomly chosen will be asked to supply urine samples to be tested for drugs. A team comprising social workers and medical staff will conduct the tests and offer counselling to students found to have taken drugs. 'It is like doing tests on drivers to combat drink driving. We will not just do drug tests on students suspected of being drug abusers. Any student might be tested and no student will be labelled,' Mr Kwok said. The government would hold an open tender for contracts to supply drug-testing and counselling services, he said. 'We will treat cases with positive results the same way we handle students with behavioural problems. There should not be any concern about privacy or human rights, as schools are only trying to help students with problems.' A school would not force a student who refused to be examined to undergo a drug test, even if parental approval had been secured, Mr Kwok said. 'But we will take follow-up action to find out why the student doesn't want to be tested.' Mr Kwok said the secondary school heads also welcomed a statement from the Catholic Church indicating it had softened its stand on drug testing. 'Bishop John Tong Hon fully supports combating drug problems in schools,' the church statement read. 'Bishop Tong stresses that all Catholic schools fully support fighting drug problems. But he shares parents' and educators' concerns. Society has reached a consensus that supporting measures must be considered, such as how to work with teachers and social workers stationed in schools, how to ease students' worries and the labelling effect,' the statement read. Last Friday, Bishop Tong said during a TVB interview that the Catholic Church would not support the scheme for fear that students with drug problems would become more difficult to identify. 'It is good that the latest statement issued by the Catholic Church is in line with our work,' Mr Kwok said.