NHS Test and Trace: COVID-19 testing for students
As promised, this is the letter providing all the information regarding the rapid testing programme we have been required to set up. All of the information here is important, but it would be most helpful if, as soon as you come to your decision about whether your child can be tested, you could complete the consent form provided in the link below (paragraph 4). It will take only a few minutes. Please be assured our priority is always to keep Woodbrook Vale School as safe as possible.
Testing for those without coronavirus symptoms is beginning across the country using new, quick COVID-19 tests known as ‘lateral flow tests’ (LFTs). Along with the other protective measures we are taking, these tests will help staff and students to remain in school safely. Up to one third of people who have coronavirus experience no symptoms. By testing, we will help to stop the virus spread and help to keep our school open as safely as possible. The test is voluntary, but I would encourage everyone to take it.
We will be testing all students whose parents/carers have given consent, from week commencing 11 January 2021 for Year 11 and Keyworker/vulnerable students and 18 January 2021 for all other students.
The hope is that as many students as possible will be tested on their return with a test which is repeated after three to five days. Thereafter, serial contact testing will take place where we will only need to test a student again, if they are in the contact group for a positive case. If you are willing to allow your child to be tested, please fill in the consent form via this link: http://bit.ly/WBVSCovidConsent
Trained staff will supervise all students taking the test. The ‘lateral flow’ tests are quick and easy using a swab of your nose and throat. Staff will oversee the swab process and be kind and supportive of our students. An instructional leaflet with some more information can be accessed here: How to do your test: COVID 19 instruction leaflet for schools (publishing.service.gov.uk)
Results (which take around half an hour from testing) will be carefully recorded and where positive, parents and carers will be informed straight away and asked to collect their child.
We will be required to share the results with Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) digital services for the NHS Test and Trace purposes and a privacy notice explaining this can be found here - http://www.wbvs.co.uk/_site/data/files/documents/Covid/2CFDE9187A1D2259E2E9E5F430710BB1.pdf
You might also find the ‘Data Protection Frequently Asked Question for parents – COVID testing in
Schools’ published by the DfE useful.
The government has assured us that these tests work. We are told that in validation studies conducted by Oxford University and Public Health England, they were shown to be as accurate in identifying a case as a PCR test (99.68% specificity). The tests have lower sensitivity but they are better at picking up cases when a person has higher viral load, hence the need to test frequently.
Testing will be offered free of charge.
What if a student tests positive?
Participating students who test positive will be informed about their results and parents and carers will be notified at the same time. Guidance on safe travel and additional precautions will be provided along with test results.
Students who test positive will need to take a further ‘PCR test’ on the same day (or as soon as possible). Woodbrook Vale School will be able to provide these PCR test kits to perform at home but we know it is faster if you can go to www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test or call 119 to book a follow-up test. If ordering a PCR test yourselves, they should choose to visit a drive-through or walk-in test site if possible, as this is quicker than requesting and waiting for a home test.
During this time, while they wait for the PCR result (via text / email), students will need to self-isolate.
If the PCR test also returns a positive result, you and your family will have to self-isolate and follow the guidance from NHS Test and Trace.
What happens if the test is negative?
The student will stay in school and resume their activities as normal. A student will only be told if they test positive on a ‘lateral flow’ test, so if you do not hear you can assume it was negative. A small number of students may need to repeat the test if the first test was invalid or void for some reason.
What if a close contact at school tests positive?
A close contact of someone in school who has tested positive for COVID-19 will be able to return to school if they agree to be tested once a day for 7 days and the test is negative. If they do not want to take the test, they will need to self-isolate as per the national guidelines. This does not apply to household members or close contacts outside of school who will still need to self-isolate as per the original guidelines. Further details will be provided at the time, but if you would prefer to self-isolate instead of doing daily testing, you can.
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 (such as 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.
We will support our students with kindness and sensitivity throughout. Please take your time to consider all the information carefully and during the course of week commencing 4 January 2021, contact us if you if you have any further questions. You can contact us by phone, but you may need to leave a contact number where we can get back to you, or alternatively by the office email on firstname.lastname@example.org where your question will be forwarded to a senior leader.
I am hopeful that this entire process will not be too disruptive to our students’ education and that working together we can make the testing process work in our favour to keep the school fully open and as safe as it can be.
Thank you in advance for your kindness and cooperation through what promises to be an unprecedented and difficult time for all schools.