2021.01.12 NHS COVID-19 Testing

Dear Student, Parent/Carer

NHS Test and Trace: COVID-19 Testing for Staff and Students

As you know from our correspondence last week, testing for individuals without coronavirus symptoms is beginning across the country; this testing is using new, simple and quicker COVID-19 tests known as ‘Lateral Flow Devices’. This letter is to help give families more information about the testing programme at SCWA.

Up to one third of people who have coronavirus are asymptomatic. By testing we will help to reduce asymptomatic transmission in school. I am, therefore, strongly encouraging those children and young people currently attending our in-school provision to be tested.

Plan for Testing 

At the end of last term, the government requested that schools make arrangements to test all staff and secondary school age students as they returned after the Christmas break, with priority given to exam year groups and those undertaking external vocational and technical qualifications in January.  In light of the national lockdown and closure of schools to the majority of students, our focus is now on testing those students and staff members currently working here on school premises. 

We wish to start the implementation of testing on Thursday 14 January, for those children currently receiving remote learning on site, administering the first of the two lateral flow tests on this day, with the second test being taken on Monday 18 January. We will also start testing staff working on site from this day.

In addition, any staff member or student who is identified as someone who has come into contact with positive cases in our school can now be subsequently tested on site daily for seven days; negative results from these daily tests will allow them to remain in school instead of self-isolating at home for a period of 10 days. 

We are looking at the practical arrangements for scheduling and carrying out mass testing in advance of the anticipated return of all students to school later in the term and we will be contacting families soon regarding this.

How the Tests Work 

Individuals taking the test will be supervised by trained staff and volunteers. The lateral flow tests are quick and easy to undertake, using a swab of the throat and nose. Results (which take around half an hour from testing) will be shared via the mobile/email details provided by each individual at registration. More details regarding this will be sent in a separate communication.

The school will also inform the student of a positive test result. Where participants are under 16, parents/carers will also be informed. The student or parent will also receive a text/email notification of a positive or negative result from the online NHS system. Tests are free of charge and I enclose a leaflet with further  information.

What if my child tests positive? 

If a student tests positive on a lateral flow device, the student and parent/carer will be informed immediately by school and will need to take a further ‘PCR test’ to confirm the result. This test should be taken on the same day or as soon as possible afterwards. We will be able to provide these PCR test kits to perform at home. During the time while waiting for a PCR result (via text/email) your child will need to self-isolate. If the PCR test returns a positive result your child will have to continue to self-isolate and follow the guidance from NHS Test and Trace.

What happens if the test is negative?

While a small number of students may need to repeat the test if the first test is invalid or void for some reason, students who test negative will be able to stay in school and resume their activities as normal. Students will be informed of negative test results via text/email using the details provided at the registration. 

What if staff or students have been in close contact with someone in school who tests positive? 

The staff member or student will be notified by the school that they are a close contact. If close contacts agree to be tested each day for a maximum period of 7 days, and they test negative every day, they will be allowed to remain in school. There may be instances where close contacts are also contacted by NHS Test and Trace. In this instance they should notify NHS Test and Trace that they are a close contact through school and are participating in daily contact testing.

What if my child develops symptoms? 

This testing programme at school is for people with no symptoms. If your child develops symptoms at any time (including a high temperature; a new, continuous cough; or a loss or change to their sense of smell or taste) they must immediately self-isolate and book a test by calling 119 or visiting https://www.gov.uk/get coronavirus-test.

Providing Consent

Consent is required for all students to participate in the testing programme and the detailed terms of consent and a link to our privacy notice can be found in our online consent form. For students younger than 16 years this form must be completed by the parent or legal guardian.

We require consent from all families by completing the consent forms below. If your child is currently accessing remote learning on the school site, please ensure you have completed the consent form by 4pm tomorrow, Wednesday 13 January.

Please complete one consent form for each child you wish to participate in testing. Students over 16 who are able to provide informed consent can complete this form themselves, having discussed participation with their parent/guardian. 

In the event you do not consent your child participating in testing, we request that you still complete the consent form so that we have a record of your decision and can reduce unnecessary contact with you regarding testing.

The attached leaflet gives details on how individuals carry out the tests. Parents/carers can contact the academy if you have any questions, however, I would ask that families only use this facility in the event of an urgent enquiry and refer to the government guidance and information for all general queries.

I thank you for your support and patience as we navigate our way through this testing programme.

Yours faithfully

Ms A Croft

Associate Principal