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Lateral Flow Testing

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Frequently asked questions

What are the objectives of the Government’s asymptomatic testing strategy in education settings?

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.

Why are you doing one-off testing?

This testing programme is designed to test as many secondary school students as possible as they resume education in January to identify asymptomatic cases.

Rapid testing and self-isolation of positive cases will avoid individuals carrying the infection unknowingly and potentially spreading it in the school/college setting or the wider community. It will also support effectiveness of the broader coronavirus testing programme that the Government is putting in place.

Why is asymptomatic rapid testing being introduced now?

One in three people have the virus without symptoms (they are asymptomatic) so could be spreading the disease unknowingly. New technology that allows for rapid testing means that we can now introduce initial testing of staff and students who may be asymptomatic, then daily testing for staff or students who are identified as contacts. Testing for people who are identified as contacts of positive cases will also mean that they do not need to isolate and can stay in face-to-face education.

This is a significant development that will help to identify positive cases more quickly, break the chains of transmission and reduce the disruption that so many schools, colleges and students have experienced in recent months. Schools and colleges will continue to put in place a range of protective measures to minimise the risk of infection spread and weekly testing for staff will also increase their confidence in the workplace. Children and young people that fall into the clinically extremely vulnerable group should continue to follow the Guidance on shielding and protecting extremely vulnerable persons.

Why have secondary school and college returns been delayed?

With growing infection rates and rising transmission among secondary age pupils and students, it is vital to do everything possible in helping to tackle these trends whilst prioritising education. Mass testing will allow us to identify more asymptomatic cases and break transmission lines.

What are the benefits of taking part?

Students, pupils and members of the workforce who have been identified as a close contact of a positive case within the education setting will undertake serial/ daily testing. This will allow them to continue to come into the education setting provided they test negative each day.

What is serial (daily) testing of close contacts in secondary schools and colleges?

Public Health England supports the serial (daily) testing of close contacts in secondary schools and colleges can be carried out for 7 consecutive days instead of requiring self-isolation for 10 days. Current evidence suggests serial (daily) testing is likely to reduce transmission of the virus at a similar rate to self-isolation. Serial (daily) testing reduces transmission of the virus at a similar rate to self-isolation. This means that more students and staff can remain in school and ‘bubbles’ of students will not have to isolate due to one positive test. This approach is a proportionate approach to managing the risk from contact with positive coronavirus cases, while keeping as many students as possible in face-to-face education.

Where outbreaks occur, school/colleges will need to respond and escalate this information to local health protection teams/Directors of Public Health in the normal way. The requirements for reporting are set out in the ‘How to Guide’ and Standard Operating Procedure documents. The testing programme in schools and colleges will be monitored closely to ensure any issues are picked up and addressed quickly.

How will the one-off testing work?

All pupils and students in secondary schools and FE colleges can be offered lateral flow test when they return to school. 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 (COVID-19) 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.

Will the existing testing service remain open?

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.

How will you avoid a stigma on those who choose not to take part or who test positive in school/college in front of their peers?

Test results will be communicated to students and staff in private wherever possible.

Can my family get tested too?

No, this testing is aimed at staff and pupils/students in schools and colleges with the goal of keeping schools and colleges open and students in face-face education. 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).

Why should I (the pupil/student/staff member) get tested if I (the pupil/student/staff member) have (has) no symptoms?

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.

Why would I (the pupil/student/staff member) take the test? If positive, I will have to self-isolate. Why would I take the risk?

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 can continue in face-to-face education with their peers.

What happens if a school cannot get the consent and the child turns up to school?

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.

People who decline to participate in daily/serial contact testing will follow the usual national guidelines and must self-isolate for ten days.

Do you need consent to process the personal data required for testing?

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 LFD testing - the results take up to one hour to develop. Do we hold pupils and students until the result, or can they go back to class?

When the testing is part of routine weekly or mass testing, individuals can return to regular school or college activities. However, anyone tested as part of the daily/serial testing of contacts programme will need to wait somewhere before being allowed to begin normal school/college activities until they receive a negative test result.

What happens if a pupil, student, or staff member's lateral flow test result is positive?

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.

Are secondary schools and colleges to receive supplies of PCR test kits for those who return a positive LFD test?

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.

What if staff or students need to travel to school or college on public transport – should they still attend school or college if they are in the daily/serial testing window?

After being identified as a close contact of a positive case within an education setting, an individual receiving daily/serial testing will not need to self-isolate, follow social restrictions, or travel arrangements beyond the rules and guidance issued for the tier they are living in. If the individual cannot take a test during this time, i.e. weekends or holidays, they must self isolate. If the seven-day period ends over the weekend, the individual would need to take a further LFD test on the following Monday.

What should I do if I have further questions or concerns?

Please contact your child’s Director of Key Stage.

Post 16 –

Director of Key Stage 4 – 

Director of Year 9 – 

Director of Key Stage 3 –

General enquiries -