Regular asymptomatic (no symptoms) COVID-19 testing has been in place for all staff at schools and colleges since January.
The Government has recently announced that all secondary aged students will also be offered regular asymptomatic COVID-19 tests to take at home. All secondary aged students will be offered tests to take at home twice a week, so that we can reduce the spread of the virus.
Up to one in three people who have COVID-19 can spread the virus without knowing. This is because they have no symptoms. To reduce the spread of the virus, we need to identify those individuals. We can do this in schools by carrying out tests at home twice every week.
Testing pupils at home
We understand that each child has individual needs. Many children will adapt to testing becoming part of their routine, others will find it more challenging. Taking part in testing is voluntary and all children will be able to attend school whether they take part or not. We hope that the option to take the test in the morning or the evening will support families to test at home.
Test kits will be given to all pupils for whom we have received consent on Friday 19th March. Tests are free of charge. Pupils will receive a pack of 3 tests in a box with a leaflet on how to take the test and report the results.
We would like your child to take their test before school on Mondays and Thursdays. Pupils have the option to take the test and report the evening before school, but no earlier.
The result of each test needs to be reported using the NHS Test & Trace self-report website: https://www.gov.uk/report-covid19-result. Pupils/parents will also need to tell the school the result of each test via an individual link that will be sent to you by text message on Friday 19th March. This link is unique to your child and is to be used for the recording of all future test results. Please keep this link safe.
If your child has a positive test result, you, your household, any support bubbles you are part of should self-isolate immediately in line with NHS Test and Trace guidelines for 10 days. You will need to follow this up with a confirmatory PCR test. Pupils should remain at home and self-isolate whilst waiting for the PCR test results. If the pupil tests negative on the PCR test, this will override the test they took at home, and they will be able to return to school.
If the result of the test is unclear (void) they will need to do another one
Help and support is available, including instructions in different languages on how to test and report the results and a video showing you how to take the test.
There is no need to keep used test equipment after the test result has been reported. You can put it in your normal bin (household waste).
Taking part in testing is voluntary and all pupils will be able to attend school whether they take part in testing or not.
I am strongly encouraging all pupils to take part in the national testing programme. If you have not previously consented or have changed your mind and would like your child to take part in home testing, please contact the school office or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please contact Jamila Ramzan our COVID Coordinator via the following email email@example.com, if you have any questions or concerns about home testing.
Thank you for your support.
Mr Gaetano Ferrante
Some frequently asked questions
What type of tests will be used?
We will be sending home Lateral Flow Device (LFD) tests. They are a fast and simple way to test people who do not have symptoms of COVID-19, but who may still be spreading the virus.
The tests are easy to use and give results in 30 minutes.
Are LFD tests accurate?
Lateral Flow Devices identify people who are likely to be infectious. These
individuals tend to spread the virus to many people and so identifying them through this test is important.
These tests have been widely and successfully used to detect COVID-19 in asymptomatic individuals and are approved by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). The speed and convenience of the tests supports the detection of the virus in asymptomatic individuals, who would not otherwise have got tested.
The tests are highly specific, with low chance of false positives. They are also very sensitive and are able to identify the majority of the most infectious yet asymptomatic individuals. Extensive evaluation has been carried out on the tests and it shows that they are both accurate and sensitive enough to be used in the community for screening and surveillance purposes.
It is important to remember that these tests are only an aid to help stop the spread of the virus and you should continue to follow other guidance such as on wearing face coverings and social distancing.
How are LFD tests different to PCR tests?
There are 2 main types of test to check if you have coronavirus:
- polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests check for the genetic material (RNA) of the virus in the sample – you send the sample for processing at a lab
- lateral flow device (LFD) tests detect proteins called ‘antigens’ produced by the virus – LFD tests give rapid results, in 30 minutes after taking the test.
How will personal information and test results be shared?
When pupils take a Lateral Flow test, they need to report the result. This is so that their test result can be traced, which means that they need to share some information about the pupil.
They will need to tell the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC):
- child’s name
- child’s test result
- the reference number on the test Kit
They will also need to tell the school or college their test result.
Under UK law, a child’s school or college can collect and store test result data because it is in the ‘public interest’.
Schools and colleges will only share information with the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) if the test kits used are found to be faulty. If this happens, DHSC will use our information to contact people who used the faulty tests, so that they can be tested again.
When someone reports test results online, they are sharing information with DHSC. DHSC may share the information with your GP, local government, NHS, and Public Health England. This is so that they can offer health services and guidance if someone needs to self-isolate. They might also use data anonymously (a person’s name or contact information) to research COVID-19, and improve our understanding of the virus.
For more information on how personal data is used for testing please click here to see the detailed privacy notice
What if a child cannot tolerate a swab down their throat, perhaps due to their disability?
A child or young person may find it difficult to take a throat swab due, for example, to their having difficulty in understanding instructions, needing to keep their mouth open during the period of swabbing or they are having a strong gag reflex. In such cases, where a combined nose and throat swab is not possible, a nose swab from both nostrils can be taken. Similarly, if a nasal swab is not feasible, a throat swab alone will suffice.
Help and support is available for students, parents and carers, including instructions in different languages on how to test and report the results and a video showing you how to take the test.