Covid-19 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
When students take their third in-school test, they are given three packs of test kits to use at home. Each pack contains three individual tests. 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 now 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. A copy of the instructions can be found here.
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:
Obtaining kits for wider family use
The kits supplied by the school are intended for the use of current students only. The Government is making lateral flow testing kits available for use by parents and other household members, but these must be obtained through local community sites. The local collection site for Slough is Montem. Other sites can be used outside of Slough and a map is included in the link below to show where these sites are located.
You do not need to pre-order from Montem or telephone in advance. If you walk into Montem you will be given 2 boxes of LFTs (28 kits) and if you drive in you will be given 4 boxes of LFTs (56 kits). Montem is now open for collection of the home testing kits 7 days a week 13.30hrs – 19.00 hrs. Some queues are anticipated. No form of ID or proof of address etc. is being requested at the present time but you may be asked about your connection with school-aged children/staff. Montem is only running this scheme until the end of March 2021 and then it will be transferred to another site – unfortunately no further information is available about this yet. You can also use the link above to order the home testing kits to be sent to your home address. Delivery times using this method are not known.
Please remember that the lateral flow devices are intended to detect asymptomatic coronavirus cases.
If your child is showing Covid symptoms, do not use the LFD test kit; instead you should book a PCR test through the Government website at https://www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test.