This article has been brought to you by Slough Borough Council's COVID Schools Programme Officer, Heather Cook, for the attention of secondary school and post 16 students.
There have been concerns raised about the numbers of home Lateral Flow Tests that are being undertaken by Secondary/College aged pupils across Slough. The numbers of positive COVID-19 cases across Slough is currently higher amongst the 11-24 year old age group than in other age groups and Slough is now 6th in the national rankings for COVID-19 cases of all ages.
It is crucial that action continues to be taken to break the chains of transmission of the virus, and help safeguard the health of the staff of education settings, and your pupils and students, wherever face-to-face education occurs. From 8 March 2021 all eligible staff, pupils and students were expected to test twice weekly using home testing kits, following the primary schools staff testing model.
Settings should not make it a requirement to have been tested in order to attend their setting. Testing is voluntary and no child or young person will be tested unless informed consent has been given by the appropriate person and the child and young person is willing to be tested. However, it is strongly encouraged that all children and young people who are receiving face-to-face education have the test, wherever it is possible to do so, to help identify asymptomatic positive cases and support appropriate self-isolation to break the chain of transmission.
Some secondary schools/colleges have told us that they are aware that home testing amongst students has reduced, particularly following the Easter break. Test and Trace data would support this as the numbers of recorded students home testing across Slough is very low. We would ask that you continue to encourage your students in collecting and using the home testing kits. It is possible that the testing figures amongst students are low across Slough because students are undertaking the home testing and not recording their results.
We would like to ask that schools/colleges reinforce the message to their students that staff, pupils and students must report all their results to NHS Test and Trace as soon as a test is completed either online or by telephone, as per the instructions in the home test kit. Reporting the test results, including all negative and invalid test results, is just as important as undertaking the test. Effective reporting means accurate monitoring of figures by the NHS, data is less likely to be skewed and outbreaks can be more efficiently monitored and managed.