The Government has confirmed it is trialling a new testing scheme for schools as a way to remove the need for whole bubbles of children to self-isolate.
The scheme would see pupils take Covid tests inside school, rather than twice a week at home.
Nick Gibb, the Schools Minister, confirmed that the daily testing of pupils at school was already being piloted in some places.
Almost a quarter of a million children have been forced to take time off school to self isolate as a result of their classmates contracting Covid.
What happens with testing now?
Under the current testing regime in schools, pupils, along with staff such as teachers, have been asked to take voluntary lateral flow device (LFDs) tests twice a week at home. These tests are sent to schools, so that students and staff do not have to go to testing centres in the community.
If a child in a school bubble tests positive as part of the routine testing, then they, along with any other members of that bubble, must self-isolate for 10 days.
How is the Government’s trial different?
When a child in a bubble tests positive for coronavirus, then their other close contacts are required to take a daily routine of Covid tests every morning in school.
These will be daily LFD tests which produce a result in 15 minutes, and a PCR test which will test for positive cases as well as analyse the virus to track variants in schools.
What schools are trialling this?
Trials are being run in about 200 schools and colleges across England, half of which will follow the new guidance, while the others follow the current rules of quarantining.
This trial will take place in secondary schools only, with no plans to incorporate primary schools into the self-isolation alternative.
Campaign for children (Day 2)
Who will administer the tests for children?
As with the current testing programme, the nasal swab and throat tests will be self-administered by pupils. If the child has difficulty doing the test, or requires assistance for reasons such as special educational needs, then an adult such as a teacher will help.
Will this be rolled out to all children?
So far, this is being run only as a trial and is expected to run until Wednesday, after which the data will be analysed.
This data will be looked at as part of any changes that the Government wishes to make ahead of the new school year in September.
Does my child have to take part?
No. All the tests are voluntary and a child can drop out of the trial at any point.
Will there be testing in primary schools?
Currently, government guidance says that only staff at primary schools and nurseries will be offered testing for coronavirus.
Public Health England advised that there are “limited public health benefits” to testing primary school pupils, as they will find the process “unpleasant”.
The Department for Education said it was not looking at conducting a similar daily testing trial in primary schools.
Are lateral flow tests accurate?
The Department for Education said that the speed and convenience of the tests make them ideal for regular testing in schools.
Analysis by NHS Test and Trace found that for every 1,000 tests carried out, there is fewer than one false positive result.
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Children lockdown mental health callout/form