You may have heard that testing for those without coronavirus symptoms is being rolled out across the country using new, quicker COVID 19 tests known as ‘lateral flow devices’.
Up to a third of people who have coronavirus are asymptomatic. Testing will help to reduce the spread in schools and colleges.
Along with the other protective measures we are taking, testing will allow us to take further measures to help students and staff in college to stay safe and keep learning.
Most of our students are accessing learning remotely at the moment. Testing will only be provided to those students and staff members who are coming into college. Other students and staff will be tested when the current restrictions change and they come back into college.
If you are coming into college you will be asked to give your consent to be tested. You’ll get an email to your college email account. Parents/legal guardians will be asked for consent for students under 16.
You can read more about this testing programme below, and you can read about how we keep your data safe here
By testing we will help to break the chains of transmission of coronavirus. The rapid testing programme in secondary schools and colleges will help to identify asymptomatic positive cases. Those who test positive will then self-isolate, helping to keep other pupils and students in face-to-face education.
Schools and colleges will be open from 4th January to receive deliveries of lateral flow device (LFD) test kits and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and to prepare for the roll out of mass testing in their education settings. Schools and colleges will also be open to vulnerable young people and the children of critical key workers from early January.
Testing will apply to students who are attending college. This will involve two LFD tests, taken at the education setting, 3-5 days apart.
Staff in college will be tested weekly.
The Government’s normal testing service for symptomatic individuals will continue. This is the foundation of our testing strategy. It is the most effective way to know if you are positive and need to self-isolate. If you have symptoms, you should continue to book a test via the NHS Coronavirus (COVID-19) service or by calling 119 in England and Wales, or 0300 303 2713 in Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Test results should be communicated to students/pupils and staff in private wherever possible.
No, this testing is aimed at staff and pupils/students in schools and colleges. Family members of staff and pupils/students taking part are not eligible. If family members experience COVID-19 symptoms, they must follow standard government guidance, including self-isolating immediately and booking a test through the NHS Coronavirus (COVID-19) service or by calling 119 (England and Wales).
Lateral flow tests are designed to detect the level of virus in individuals who do not experience and show any symptoms, but who could still be infectious and pass the virus to others. By taking a test, you will help to stop the spread of the virus, protect other people, and save lives.
Lateral flow tests are designed to detect the level of virus in individuals who do not experience and show any symptoms, but who could still be infectious and pass the virus to others. By taking a test, you will help to stop the spread of the virus, protect other people, and save lives. This will also mean that staff can continue going to work, schools and colleges can avoid unnecessary staff shortages, and pupils and students attending college can continue to do so.
Schools and colleges must comply with their legal duties regarding pre-appointment checks when utilising agency staff, contractors, and volunteers to support testing. Usually, if you are involved in the testing procedure, or if you are at any time with children unsupervised, then you will require a DBS check. If you are volunteering but not assisting with swabbing (for instance, if you are already trained to provide support for a child who cannot self-administer), and you will not be unsupervised with children/ young people at any time, then you will not need a DBS check.
It is essential that agency staff, contractors and volunteers are appropriately supported and given appropriate roles. The school or college should minimise the mixing of volunteers, agency staff and contractors across groups, and they should remain 2 metres from pupils and staff where possible.
Schools and colleges will receive funding to support them with testing costs incurred. The government has made £78m available to support schools and colleges with the initial rollout of mass testing. This will be paid retrospectively. The amount of funding available to a school or college will depend on its size as this will impact the number of additional staff required to conduct testing.
The Department for Education has provided guidance on delivering testing in specialist settings.
Special schools and specialist colleges have a range of staff to meet pupils and students’ health needs. These staff already have undertaken various training to support health needs and could provide support taking swabs for those who cannot self-administer. “Support for pupils who are unable to self-swab may be available. Clinical support would be for children and young people whose physical and health needs prevent them from administering their own test, and where parents and/or existing school staff cannot assist.”
Support for pupils who are unable to self-swab may be available if there are no suitable staff to administer tests. Clinical support would be for children and young people whose physical and health needs prevent them from administering their own test, and parents or existing school staff cannot assist.
In some cases, the individual may wish to have a trusted adult from the setting to supervise the self-swab of the test. The setting may also wish to consider whether it would agree in exceptional circumstances to a parent coming into the setting to support their child to self-swab or to swab their child. This might be a reasonable adjustment for the testing of a child or young person with a disability, for example.
The PPE requirements for staff vary depending on the role. All staff must wear a fluid-resistant (Type 11R) surgical mask. Processors must also wear disposable gloves (which will require changing after each session), a disposable plastic apron, and eye protection (goggles or a visor). The test assistant and results recorder will both need disposable gloves. The cleaner will need disposable gloves and disposable apron (to be changed in cleaning a spillage) and eye protection (goggles or a visor). PPE should be changed whenever staff members leave and re-enter the test site area (including during a session) or if protective properties are compromised or contaminated.
Two rapid tests will be available to all students upon their return to college to identify asymptomatic cases.
Rapidly identifying and containing any asymptomatic cases will prevent individuals from carrying the infection unknowingly and potentially spreading it in the local community. It will also support the effectiveness of the broader coronavirus testing programme that the government is putting in place.
All pupils and students attending secondary schools and FE colleges can be offered lateral flow testing upon their return to college.
Secondary school and FE college students and pupils will be able to take two LFD tests spaced between 3-5 days apart. The LFDs supplied do not require laboratory processing and can provide a quick result in up to an hour.
Individuals testing positive will need to self-isolate in line with the stay-at-home guidance for households for those with a possible or confirmed coronavirus (COVID19) infection. The student, pupil or staff member should then take a confirmatory PCR test to validate the positive result.
Additional PCR tests will be sent to schools and colleges for issuing to any individual that receives a positive test, to support swift access to a confirmatory test.
Testing is not mandatory and any student or pupil who does not wish to take the two LFD tests at the start of spring term will not need to produce a negative test result, or provide proof of having taken a test, to return to face-to-face education. However, testing is strongly encouraged.
Lateral flow tests are very accurate, which means that only a very small proportion of people who do not have coronavirus will receive a positive result (false positive).
If you test positive on a lateral flow test, it is likely that you are infectious at that moment. By using the lateral flow test we can identify people with a high viral load who are the most likely to spread the virus further.
Those who receive a negative test result from an LFD test must still follow social distancing guidance, wear face coverings when appropriate and wash their hands regularly.
In most cases, students will self-swab in order to provide a test sample. There are a number of related roles in the testing process, which are set out in published guidance.
Staff in schools and colleges will need to support the testing programme. The remaining testing workforce may need to be made up of volunteers and agency staff. If a school or college is experiencing difficulties putting testing arrangements in place, further support may be requested under exceptional circumstances to address logistical and planning issues. Schools and colleges will not be guaranteed this provision – educational settings will be assessed on a case-by-case basis. All secondary schools, colleges and independent special schools will be eligible for additional funding for workforce support. All other independent schools will not be eligible.
The number of test kits that each school will receive has been estimated based on the number of teachers and students and expectations around daily/serial testing based on prevalence. Schools and colleges will receive two deliveries in early January 2021. The first delivery will arrive by Royal Mail. These test kits and PPE are for the initial testing programme. In the second delivery, schools and colleges will receive test kits and PPE for the weekly testing of staff and contact daily/serial testing.
Participation in the programme requires active consent from the person being tested, or, if they are under 16, their parent or /legal guardian. Any staff member, student, or pupil who does not take part in testing will still be able to attend school or college unless they develop symptoms or have been in close contact with a positive result in which case they must self-isolate for ten days.
Secondary schools and colleges will need to satisfy themselves that they have a lawful basis for processing personal data. The duties prescribed in education legislation for secondary schools and FE institutions require them to plan for safeguarding needs and promote pupils, and students’ welfare may provide sufficient legal basis without having to rely on consent. Schools and colleges will provide staff, pupils and parents with a privacy notice explaining what personal data is required to participate in the programme.
After testing individuals can return to regular school or college activities.
Individuals who return a positive lateral flow test result must self-isolate immediately and take a confirmatory PCR test. If the PCR test returns a positive result, the individual must continue to self-isolate and follow NHS Test and Trace guidance. They should also inform their school or college of the positive result. A confirmatory PCR test is crucial as it activates contact tracing, which reduces the spread of the disease. If an individual does not take a PCR confirmatory test, they must self-isolate for ten days and inform their contacts to self-isolate in line with public health advice
Work is ongoing to develop more testing options, including the use of LFDs at home for staff and students.
PCR test kits will be supplied to secondary schools and colleges. Any individual who receives a positive LFD will be provided with a confirmatory PCR test kit to take at home. They will not be expected to take the PCR test in school/college and should return home to self-isolate immediately.
Parents or carers should arrange for their child to be collected as quickly as possible following a positive test. The pupil or student should wear a face covering and keep a safe distance from others in a designated waiting area within the education setting. If possible, the child should walk, cycle or scoot home. Pupils and students who have tested positive must not travel home using public transport. Exceptionally the local authority may be able to help source a suitable vehicle which would provide appropriate protection.