The Welsh Government has recently announced that a free and voluntary programme of asymptomatic COVID-19 testing will be available in education and childcare settings across Wales. This offer is available to all staff and learners in years 10-13.
Along with the primary infection control measures we have implemented, such as social distancing and good hand hygiene, testing will allow us to provide some additional reassurance to the wider school 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 (LFD) 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.
As the tests are more sensitive with higher viral loads, there is a risk of returning a negative result when viral loads are low (e.g. in the early stages of infection). This is why it is recommended that two LFD tests are taken 3 to 4 days apart, on Tuesday and Friday mornings to enhance detection by picking up any cases which were not detected during the first test and to catch any new infections.
If your child tests positive using an LFD, it is likely that they are infectious and they must self-isolate immediately and book and take a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test within 24 hours of the positive LFD test result. Contact tracing will be triggered following a positive LFD and their close contacts will be required to self-isolate until they receive their PCR test result. If the PCR test result is positive, your child and their close contacts will have to self-isolate.
A negative LFD result should not be read as a means to relax or ignore social distancing or other virus prevention measures intended to reduce transmission – LFD is an additional tool that contributes to reducing risk.
If you agree for your child to take part, a consent form will need to be completed:
The school will then arrange for you to collect a pack of LFD test kits which will enable self-testing from home.
Tests should be taken 3 to 4 days apart and ideally the tests should be taken as close to coming into school as possible. The LFDs 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 www.gov.uk/report-covid19-result.
You will also need to inform your school as soon as possible by completing this form:
It is important to highlight that the purposes of the testing policy in education and childcare in Wales is to complement the primary control measures (such as social distancing and mask wearing) that have already been put in place to enable face to face learning / care to continue and to:
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.
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. Those who choose not to participate should still attend school if they are not displaying symptoms. It is also important that they follow the usual national guidelines on self-isolation and get tested if they show any symptoms.