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Testing in schools

Asymptomatic testing is the testing of individuals who don't have symptoms of COVID-19.

It's done via simple and quick tests, known as Lateral Flow Device (LFD) tests. They enable us to rapidly test pupils, students and staff, without the need for a laboratory. 

No test is 100% accurate. But the LFD, when done as part of a testing regime, is very good at picking up those people with high viral loads. These people are the most contagious.

We're encouraging staff, students and pupils to test on a regular basis to help us break the chains of COVID-19 transmission.

Getting a test at school testing facilities

We're asking all secondary school and college pupils and students to take three tests. This is an increase from the two tests originally planned.

These three tests will take place three to five days apart as they return to the classroom from 8 March. The tests will take place at existing school testing facilities, known as Asymptomatic Testing Sites (ATS).

Pupils and students will be supervised while taking tests to make sure they're doing it correctly. This is why testing will take place on-site at first. Secondary schools will keep a small ATS after the move to home testing for those that cannot test at home.

Primary school children (Year 6 and below) won't take part in the asymptomatic testing programme.

Taking tests at home

After the initial programme of school and college testing, pupils and students will receive two rapid tests to use each week at home. The use of home test kits won't start until the week beginning 15 March.

The initial tests carried out in schools and colleges will let pupils and students get used to completing the tests. You will also receive the information you need to support the testing at home.

If you're uncertain of how to access these kits or information, contact your school.

Young people aged 12 and above can test themselves. They should log the results with support for different age groups:

  • Students aged 18 and over should self-test and report the result, with help if needed
  • Pupils aged 12 to 17 should self-test and report with adult supervision. The adult may conduct the test if necessary.
  • An adult should carry out the test for children aged 11 attending a secondary school

Secondary pupils not undergoing testing will attend school in line with phased return arrangements. Each school will decide these from 8 March.

Testing for households of pupils and staff

Testing is now also available for adults from the households of pupils and staff. This testing is known as Rapid Lateral Flow Testing or LFT. It's a form of asymptomatic testing and uses a Lateral Flow Device (LFD).

We'd encourage you to test on a regular basis to help us break the chains of coronavirus transmission.

The Government has published guidance on this at GOV.UK: Rapid lateral flow testing for households and bubbles of school pupils and staff.

This testing is not administered by education settings. They have a separate programme of asymptomatic testing for pupils, students and staff.

How to access the test

Members of households, childcare or support bubbles of school staff and pupils can get a twice-weekly asymptomatic test through the following routes:

The GOV.UK guidance mentioned above also contains information on how to access this type of testing. Where the guidance mentions collection or test sites it provides links to details of the opening times and locations. These centres provide a simple drop-in service and there's no need to book. But you should check the opening times before leaving to collect test kits.

Please note that LFT testing is for people who don't have symptoms of coronavirus. If you have symptoms of coronavirus you should order a test online or call 119.

What to do if you test positive or develop coronavirus symptoms

If you or anyone in your household tests positive or develops coronavirus symptoms, you should tell the school or college. You should then:

  • Self-isolate immediately
  • Get a PCR test to confirm the result (following an LFD test at home)
  • Follow the stay at home guidance for households with possible coronavirus infection

This may mean pupils who are not part of the schools' testing programme isolating as a close contact of a household member. This follows the stay at home guidance for households with possible coronavirus infection.

If you have symptoms of coronavirus, you should book a test at a test centre immediately. Find out more about symptoms and booking a test.

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