Regular testing is quick, easy, and free, and is key to catching the virus early and stopping it from spreading in our schools and communities. That’s why secondary school students and staff without Covid symptoms should be taking lateral flow tests at home twice a week.
The best place for children and young people is in school or college with their teachers and friends, and the latest research shows us that attendance rates are continuing to stabilise.
Alongside the vaccination programme for 12-15-year-olds, which has already reached hundreds of thousands of pupils, testing is key to reducing the risk of transmission and infection rates in schools, and ensuring young people are able to get on with their studies without any further disruptions.
Here is everything you need to know about the testing process in secondary schools.
Why do children need to test when they’re not at a high risk from the virus?
While children are less likely to suffer severe symptoms of coronavirus, they are still able to catch and transmit the virus. Regular testing will help us catch cases early and stop students from passing it on to others.
Up to 1 in 3 people, including children, who catch coronavirus show no symptoms but can still pass the virus onto others. The vaccine is our best weapon in the fight to end the pandemic but there are still parts of the country where cases are rising.
That is why it is important for pupils aged 11 and up, to continue to test regularly to help us catch the virus early and prevent it from spreading.
Testing regimes in schools and colleges have been designed with pupils in mind, ensuring that regular testing does not unnecessarily impact their education or home-lives.
Taking a test only takes a few minutes and there are multiple online resources available to support and educate pupils and parents about the process.
Where should pupils get tests from?
Pupils and staff can get test packs from their schools or colleges, pick one up from their local pharmacy or order one straight to their front door through the NHS.
Schools may also have on-site testing sites which can help students get tested if they are unable to test themselves at home.
The process is quick, simple, and free, and will help to ensure that our schools and colleges remain safe spaces for pupils and staff
How do students report test results?
Secondary school students who are over 18 should take tests and report the results themselves, although they can seek assistance if needed. Pupils aged 12-17 should test and report under adult supervision, and those who are under the age of 12, but at secondary school, should be tested with the assistance a parent, teacher or another responsible adult.
It is really important that all tests are reported, to ensure that we can identify positive cases early, and reduce the risk of transmission.
And what if a test comes out positive?
If a student tests positive they may have COVID-19 and should follow government guidance, self-isolating straight away and taking a PCR test as soon as possible, and within two days of their positive lateral flow test result.. These tests are free and can be ordered or booked online.
If this test comes back positive, students should stay at home and not go into school for the next 10 days, starting from the date if their positive lateral flow result, or from when they started displaying symptoms.
Do I need to self-isolate if my child tests positive for coronavirus?
If your child, or anyone else in your household, tests positive for coronavirus you do not need to self-isolate if you are:
- Fully vaccinated
- Below the age of 18
- Have taken part in or are currently taking part in a COVID-19 vaccine trial
- Are unable to get a vaccine for medical reasons
If the test is positive do other pupils they know have to isolate?
No – As with adults, students who have been in contact with students who have tested positive with coronavirus do not need to self-isolate and should continue to go to school unless told not to by the NHS Test and Trace system.
What if a pupil feels unwell?
If pupils feel unwell or begin to show symptoms of coronavirus they should be sent home immediately and should order a PCR test as soon as possible. If pupils test positive they should immediately self-isolate.
Anyone who is suffering from covid-19 or other flu-like symptoms should be getting plenty of rest, keeping hydrated and taking ibuprofen or paracetamol to lower temperatures and treat aches and pains.
How long is this going to carry on for?
Testing will continue at least until the end of the Autumn term, at which point the situation will be reviewed in line with the latest scientific guidance.
Protecting students and staff, and ensuring that students continue to have a normal, face-to-face education is our top priority. Vaccines are key in our fight against the virus but there is still some way to go.
Testing is helping us protect our school campuses and communities, so that pupils can get back to learning without further restrictions.