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Lateral Flow Testing
Monday 4th January 2021
NHS Test and Trace: COVID-19 testing for staff and students
Dear Parents and Carers,
Firstly, may I express my thanks for your support and cooperation over the past few days as we have announced our plans for remote learning for the first two weeks of the spring term.
But just as London faces record rises in Covid cases, there are breakthroughs with science that will mean we can all feel more optimistic. As students begin to physically return to the building, they will begin to benefit from free and fast Covid tests at school, as will our staff.
This is a national scheme being organised by all secondary schools in England. For those students who participate, which we expect to be the vast majority, it will drastically reduce the chance of having to self-isolate at home if they come into close contact with someone who has the virus. It will of course also reduce the spread of the virus and help to keep our community, and the wider community beyond our gates, safe.
Headteachers who have already piloted the programme call it a “game-changer” for safety, continuity and reassurance. I am personally going to be participating and I know there is a great deal of enthusiasm among staff and students throughout the academy too.
The test is voluntary, but I would warmly encourage everyone to take it. Our plan is to test everyone who wants to participate between the 6th and 16th January. Once you have completed the registration and consent form, we will contact you with a time for your child to attend.
Please follow this link to complete the registration and consent form. https://forms.office.com/Pages/ResponsePage.aspx?id=iSUtagbWmk-rU04hqmtEXll7YBEDhN9DlXK58uHsr8NUOFRKMVhKQ0xSNFo2TzBIRzhJQ05UOEFIWi4u
I have enclosed a Q&A which I hope will answer the key questions you have. If you have any further questions once you have read the information, please do not hesitate to contact us.
Mrs J Larizadeh
Questions and answers
How often will my child be tested?
To make everybody safer when schools physically return, the government has asked that students are tested twice in early January, with the second test three days after the first. If the test is negative, they will be able to come to school (once we open for on-site education) as normal as long as they do not have any coronavirus symptoms. If the result is positive, they would need to self-isolate at home and book a lab-based PCR test via the NHS.
After this, students will be offered daily tests (for 7 days) if they have been identified as a close contact of a positive case, so that they can stay in school, rather than isolate, as long as they are well.
Will this help ensure more stability and face-to-face education?
Yes. Headteachers who took part in the pilot describe it as a “game-changer”.
Firstly, it will help identify asymptomatic cases – which make up a third of all cases – limiting the spread of the virus.
But also – and crucially - staff and students who are close contacts of cases will be eligible for daily testing, removing the need to self-isolate if they are well. Only if a daily test returns a positive result will the staff member or student need to isolate.
Please note that if there are students who opt-out of the daily testing, they will be required to self-isolate at home for ten days in this scenario.
What will happen if my child’s test result is positive?
In the event of a positive result, the student would need to self-isolate at home and book a PCR test via the NHS. If that test is also positive, they would need to continue self-isolating at home and follow the guidance from NHS Test and Trace.
What type of tests are being used and how will they be conducted?
The tests are called Lateral Flow Tests (LFT). Students will be asked to do a throat and nose swab, which they will complete themselves, supported and supervised by a trained staff member. The tests are very straightforward, with the results available within 30 minutes.
How reliable are these tests?
There is a low chance of ‘false positive’ tests – that is why the second, lab-based PCR test is necessary. There is also a low chance that lateral flow tests don’t pick up positive cases because they aren’t as sensitive as lab-based tests. That is why there will be daily tests for close contacts of positive cases – they will be tested repeatedly over a number of days to ensure they are not positive.
Will I be informed of my child’s result(s)?
For the early January tests, you will be informed if your child’s test is positive or negative. For the daily testing for close contacts, you will only be informed if the test is positive.
Are the tests compulsory?
No but we warmly encourage everyone to participate. However, if a student is a close contact of a confirmed case and opts-out of daily testing they will be required to self-isolate at home for ten days whether they have symptoms or not.