Warwickshire County Council is urging all school pupils and college students to keep up twice weekly testing for COVID-19 to reduce the risks of disruption to end-of-year exams and to finish the academic year safely.
It’s recommended that young people attending secondary school or college take a lateral flow test (LFT), also known as rapid COVID-19 tests, at home every three to four days.
The tests identify young people who may have no symptoms but are still infectious, this could be as many as 1 in 3 people so regular testing is an important way to track the virus.
Students can either use home test kits provided by their school or college, or collect them from venues across Warwickshire after finding a local site at https://maps.test-and-trace.nhs.uk/The result of a lateral flow test, whether a positive or negative for COVID-19, must be reported to NHS test and trace after the test is completed at www.gov.uk/report-covid19-result.Positive rapid test results need to be confirmed with a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test within 72 hours booked at www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test or by calling 119 and people need to isolate until these results come back.
If the PCR is negative students can return to school but positive results mean the student, their household and close contacts must isolate for ten days.
PCR tests are more accurate at detecting COVID-19 as they are more sensitive, so require less of the virus to produce a positive result and can pinpoint which strain of the virus an individual has.
They are processed in a laboratory and produce a result within 24 to 48 hours.
PCR tests are also used in the instances of any school outbreaks and when undertaking targeted testing for any variants of concern (VOC).
Dr Shade Agboola, director for Public Health Warwickshire, said: “I am sure many students are really looking forward to the end of their exams and onward to the end of term.
"However, we need to make sure we get there safely by continuing to get regularly tested for COVID-19 and following the guidance - social distancing, washing your hands, wearing a face covering, and letting in plenty of fresh air when indoors.
“COVID-19 is still here and is likely to be with us for some time.
"By getting regularly tested, we are able to control the spread of the virus and minimise its disturbance to our lives and the futures of our young people. It is only by working together that we can keep everyone safe, reduce the potential impact of coronavirus on exam results, and continue on the Government’s roadmap out of lockdown.”
Since re-opening on the 8th March 2021, Warwickshire’s state-funded schools have seen a strong attendance rate over the past few months with average attendance reaching nearly 92 per cent.
Warwickshire’s primary school pupil attendance has similarly achieved an average attendance rate of 94 per cent, with all schools determined to ensure safe environments for their pupils in order to achieve both increased student confidence and continued high attendance levels.
If students have to miss exams at the end of the academic year due to COVID-19, schools will be following the national guidance provided and use evidence from across the duration of a student’s course to determine their grade rather than rely on a single assessment.
A demonstration of how to use a lateral flow test can be watched on the YouTube channel youtu.be/thYMMI-raJsFor more information about coronavirus, education and learning in Warwickshire, visit www.warwickshire.gov.uk/coronaviruseducationinfoFor information and guidance about reducing the spread COVID-19 in Warwickshire, visit www.warwickshire.gov.uk/information-coronavirus