Re: NHS Test, Trace, Protect: COVID-19 Rapid Lateral Flow Self-Test
The Welsh Government has implemented a free and voluntary programme of asymptomatic COVID-19 testing for education and childcare settings across Wales. This offer is available to all staff and learners in Years 7-13 and all college learners.
Along with the primary infection control measures we have implemented, such as good respiratory hygiene, adequate ventilation and one-way systems, and good hand hygiene, testing will allow us to provide some additional reassurance to the wider school/college community.
Up to one in three people who have COVID-19 have the virus without symptoms so could be transmitting the virus unknowingly. Part of controlling the spread of the virus requires identifying those infectious individuals who aren’t showing any symptoms and asking them to self-isolate. Lateral Flow Device tests have been widely and successfully used to detect COVID-19 in asymptomatic individuals. The speed and convenience of LFD tests supports detection of the virus in asymptomatic individuals who would not otherwise be tested. They are clinically approved and are crucial in the fight against the virus.
Further information regarding lateral flow testing is available via: https://gov.wales/lateral-flow-testing-people-without-symptoms
and Welsh Government’s announcement is available via: https://gov.wales/take-steps-needed-keep-learners-safe-and-learning
How the tests work and providing consent
If you wish your child to participate in Lateral Flow testing the consent form at the Google Form link will need to be completed as soon as possible. The school will then arrange for your son/daughter to collect a pack of test kits which will enable self-testing from home.
Link to consent form for parents/carers: https://forms.gle/YSeL5V2qm3o1n1cm7
Tests should be take 3 to 4 days apart (as above) and ideally the tests should be taken as close to coming into school as possible. The LFTs supplied do not require laboratory processing and can provide a quick result in around 30 minutes. Comprehensive guidance on self-testing is contained in the ‘Instructions for Use’ leaflet which comes with the test kit.
Once the test has been conducted each test result must be logged online at http://www.gov.uk/report-covid19-result
Purpose of testing
It is important to highlight that the purposes of the testing policy in education and childcare in Wales is to complement the measures that have already been put in place to enable face to face learning / care to continue and to:
– Rapidly identify those who are regularly on site during learning/care hours, who are unknowingly carrying the virus and ask them to self-isolate to reduce disruption to face to face education / care.
– Complement symptomatic results data with asymptomatic results data to provide a picture of infection rates as marker for the effectiveness, and implementation of, primary control measures and to assist in the early identification of clusters. In addition to a range of other data and public health advice this information can be used to inform national policy decisions.
The testing policy for education and childcare should not be viewed as a ‘test to enable’ or ‘test to return’ to face to face learning i.e. it is not a condition of coming on to the site or accessing learning/care. Additionally, this testing offer is entirely voluntary.
Further information around Consent / Privacy
All individuals wishing to take part should familiarise themselves with the testing process and privacy notice, if you choose to participate, you are committing to self-administer the test and provide results for all tests (negative or positive).
With our primary protective measures and testing, we will help to reduce the spread of the virus. Whilst staff and learners are encouraged to take up this offer of testing at home, anyone who chooses not to participate should still attend school if they are not displaying symptoms.
People who decline to participate in this testing programme should follow the usual national guidelines on self-isolation and anyone should get tested if they show symptoms.
S J Evans