Covid-19 asymptomatic testing programme
What is the purpose of the testing?
The Asymptomatic Covid-19 testing programme is important because staff and students without symptoms could be carrying the virus and may spread it to others. Testing staff and students without symptoms will support schools to operate as safely as possible.
Simple and quick tests, known as Lateral Flow Device (LFD) tests, enable us to rapidly test students without the need for a laboratory. The tests return a result within 30 minutes. All secondary schools have been provided with test kits to conduct testing on site by setting up an Asymptomatic Test Site (AST), and then to provide home testing kits.
What does the test involve?
The test involves swabbing tonsils at the back of the throat and one nostril and processing the swab with the Lateral Flow Device (LFD).
How good are the tests?
The has been a lot of media coverage about the ‘accuracy’ of the lateral flow test devices. The Covid-19 tests which many of you will have had by booking a slot at a local testing centre are known as PCR tests. They can detect extremely small traces of the virus, and can return a positive result even when there is little risk of someone actually passing the virus on.
The Lateral Flow Devices (LFDs) used in school will not detect very small viral loads. However, they can detect cases where someone is carrying the virus at a level which might mean they are infectious. Every positive Covid-19 case detected by LFDs is a case that would not otherwise have been discovered until symptoms were obvious and the risk of transmission was higher.
So, it is important to remember:
- A negative test result does not mean that someone is free of the virus. It simply means that at that particular time, the test did not detect any significant viral load.
- A positive test result is highly likely to indicate that someone is carrying enough viral load to be infectious.
Any student whose test returns a positive result will given that result in person by school staff and told what to do; their parents will also be informed immediately.
LFDs are widely used in many workforces, including the NHS, for screening programmes where workers are given supplies of tests to carry out at home.
Home testing programme
Students are given packs of test kits to use at home. Students should carry out a test at home twice a week, with a separation of 3-5 days between each test. The first home test should not be carried out until at least three days after the third in-school test. Students should have enough tests to last until the end of the Easter holiday, and will be issued with more kits at the start of the summer term.
Each pack contains a full set of instructions – please read them carefully. Students have experience of the actual swabbing procedure, but the success of the test does depend on this and it is important that this is carried out carefully. Processing the test is quick and easy but again must be carried out by following the instructions carefully.
There is a helpful video produced by the NHS which can be accessed below. It shows very clearly how to do the swabbing and processing.
Reporting results of home tests
All test outcomes should be reported to the NHS Test and Trace website – there are full instructions on how to do this in each pack. Any positive results must be reported to the school immediately – please contact Reception on 01753 598300. Negative results do not need to be reported to the school.
What to do if there is a positive result
If there is a positive result from a home test, it is very likely that the student has Covid and is infectious. However, because the tests are being carried out at home and may not be as well controlled as in school, a PCR test needs to be carried out to confirm. This can be booked through the Government website at https://www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test and the result must be reported to the school. We will then undertake contact tracing as required.
The Privacy Notice which explains how students' personal data is used can be accessed below: