At the beginning of this term the Department for Education introduced ‘Rapid Testing for Schools and Colleges’ to complement its Covid-19 National Testing Programme. Lateral flow tests along with a range of other resources needed to set up our testing station were delivered to school during the first week of term.
Although schools were not required to take part in the programme, setting up our own testing station has enabled us to identify asymptomatic cases of Covid-19 and help reduce the risk of infection being passed on to others. As well as members of staff, the children of key workers attending school have been tested twice following their return to school.
After the necessary training had been completed, our team of volunteers began testing pupils and staff in our ‘Testing Station’ from Monday 18 January. Testing has been undertaken regularly on Monday and Thursday mornings between 8.30 and 10.30am. All colleagues and pupils were strongly encouraged to take part in the weekly testing after submitting consent forms.
A team of volunteer staff support the operation of the Testing Station which has been operating in our Jack McLaughin Centre. Tests are self-administered and conducted with all the testing team personnel wearing full PPE. Results are known within half an hour and have been instrumental in tracing asymptomatic cases of Covid-19 in school. Testing is only for asymptomatic pupils and staff with the strict requirement that anyone who has symptoms of course must not attend school.
Testing roles required training and competency assessments by our volunteer staff for the roles of registration assistants to record details of each test and distribute test kits; test assistants, who provide guidance to pupils and staff on swabbing, collecting completed swabs and passing these on to the processors who prepare test samples for analysis, conduct the tests and interpret results to finally pass on results to the test recorder who then uploads the results onto the ‘Test & Trace’ website.
Testing will continue throughout this term in line with Department for Education guidance.