COVID-19 testing

 NHS Test and Trace: COVID-19 testing for staff and students

As you know, we have worked incredibly hard since the start of the pandemic in March to keep our academy as safe as possible, and that work has continued over the Christmas holiday period. I would like to thank our incredible staff for their commitment and professionalism, which has seen many working over the holidays.

My letter today includes important information relating to the COVID-19 testing process for staff and students. As before, a great deal of planning and risk assessment has gone into ensuring that our academy continues to be as safe as possible for students and staff, in line with latest Government and Public Health England guidance.

We will continue to take decisions in the best interests of our students, working with you and keeping you informed every step of the way, while following Government rules and advice.

Information relating to NHS Test and Trace: COVID-19 testing for staff and pupils

You may have heard that testing for those without coronavirus symptoms is beginning across the country using COVID-19 tests known as ‘lateral flow tests’. Ormiston Six Villages Academy will be following the guidance set out by the government and NHS and implementing Lateral Flow Testing using test kits provided by the DfE/NHS.

Along with the other protective measures we are taking, these tests can help staff and students remain in school safely. Up to one third of people who have coronavirus experience no symptoms. By testing we will help to stop the virus spread and help to keep our school open as safely as possible. The test is voluntary. However, we are participating as a school and I would encourage all students and staff to take part as well.

We aim to begin testing staff and students who are on site this week, moving to Year 11 on 11th January, extending this to other year groups from 18th January.

Please note the following key points:

  • Those taking the test will be supervised by trained staff.
  • The lateral flow tests are quick and easy using a swab of your nose and throat. For under-18s, staff can oversee the swab process.
  • Results take around half an hour from testing and will be shared directly with staff and students participating. Where participants are under-16, parents or legal guardians will also be informed of any positive result.
  • The Government has shared information with us from Oxford University and Public Health England, which have indicated the tests are as accurate in identifying a case as a ‘PCR test’ (99.68% specificity). The tests have lower sensitivity but are considered better at picking up cases when a person has higher viral load, hence the need to test frequently. Testing will be offered free of charge.

What do parents and carers need to do next?

All tests are voluntary and your consent is required. If you are happy for your child to be tested, please complete the e-consent form and submit by 9am on Wednesday 6th January. Click https://forms.gle/Vcb2ADb3qNhk7JZi6 to access the form. I appreciate the notification is short, but fast responses from yourselves would greatly assist our planning, will ensure we are fully compliant and prepared and students can return safely back to school.

I hope that the information in this letter is helpful and clear. Please also refer to the additional information below which I hope you will find reassuring and informative. If you have any questions, please email Mrs Canadas on [email protected]. Rest assured that we will support our staff and students throughout.

Mr P Slaughter, Principal

Additional Information

Participating staff and pupils who test positive will be informed about their results individually. Where participants are under 16, parents or legal guardians will also be notified and will be required to collect their child immediately. Guidance on safe travel and additional precautions will be provided along with test results.

Pupils testing positive will need to take a further ‘PCR test’ (similar to those done in local and regional testing sites) on the same day. You will need to arrange a test via www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test or can call 119 to book a follow-up test. You should choose to visit a drive-through test site if possible, as it is faster than requesting a home test.

During the time while they wait for the PCR result (via text/email), the students will need to self-isolate.

If the PCR test confirms a positive result you will have to self-isolate and follow the guidance from NHS Test and Trace and notify the academy.

Students will be able to stay in school and resume their activities as normal. A student will only be told if they test positive on a lateral flow test, so if you do not hear you can assume it was negative. A small number of students may need to repeat the test if the first test was invalid or void for some reason.

A close contact of someone in school who has tested positive for COVID-19 will be able to return to school if they agree to be tested once a day for seven days and the test is negative. If they do not want to take the test, they will need to self-isolate as per the national guidelines. This does not apply to household members or close contacts outside school who will still need to self-isolate. Further details will be provided at the time, but if you would prefer to self-isolate instead of doing daily testing, you can.

This testing programme at school is for people with no symptoms. If your child develops symptoms at any time (such as a high temperature; a new, continuous cough; or a loss or change to their sense of smell or taste) they must immediately self-isolate, and book a test by calling 119 (England, Wales and Northern Ireland) or 0300 303 2713 (Scotland) or visiting https://www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test.