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

21 December 2020

Dear parent/carer,

Following on from my communication on Friday 18th December, I am pleased to be sharing with you further information around the mass testing of pupils and staff in schools, as a way of reducing the spread of the virus and enabling fewer pupils and staff to have to self-isolate. You can read more about how the government expects this programme to work here.

I am hopeful of testing all staff and pupils who want to participate from week commencing 4 January 2021. This will initially start with staff, year 11 pupils, key worker and vulnerable pupils; rolling out to our remaining year groups later in the week. This initial phase of testing is being termed ‘initial testing’ by the Government. All those who have consented will be tested twice, 2-5 days apart. The implementation of the testing will be dependent on the testing equipment arriving by 4 January 2021. The next phase is being termed ‘serial testing’ by the Government. This is where consented pupils are tested in the morning for 7 school days after being highlighted as being in contact with someone who has tested positive for Covid 19. All school staff will be tested on a weekly basis. 

If you are happy for your child to be tested, please fill in the electronic Google form here or enclosed consent statement and return it to the school via submitting the Google form, emailing or hand delivering to the school office. If you do not wish to consent to your child being tested in school if they are in contact with someone who has tested positive for Covid 19, they must follow Government guidance and isolate for 10 days from the day they last had contact with the positive case. 

Due to the large scale testing that we intend to be carrying out during the first week, we will be repurposing the sports hall. In future weeks we will then move to a specific area within school. 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. Pupils and staff will be carrying out the swab themselves. Please click on the link for further explanation. Results (which take around half an hour from testing) will be shared directly with staff and pupils participating. Immediate contact will be made home for pupils where a positive test has been obtained. 

Setting up this programme in schools is a complex operation. We have been sent some information about how it should work already, but more detailed guidance is expected to be produced by the government over the Christmas holiday period. Once I have this information, along with a timeframe of testing for the week I will ensure this is shared with you. 

If you do have questions, please email info@ipswichacademy.org.uk

Due to it being the holiday period, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to answer these until Monday 4th January. 

Thank you for your patience, and best wishes for a safe and enjoyable festive period. 

Abbie Thorrington

What if a pupil tests positive?

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. Guidance on safe travel and additional precautions will be provided along with test results.

Pupils will need to take a further ‘PCR test’ (similar to those done in local and regional testing sites) on the same day (or as soon as possible). School will be able to provide these PCR test kits to perform at home or you can go to www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test or call 119 to book a follow-up test. If ordering a PCR test yourselves, they should choose to visit a drive-through test site if possible, as it is faster than requesting a home test.

During this time while they wait for the PCR result (via text / email) they will need to self-isolate. If the PCR test returns a positive result you will have to self-isolate and follow the guidance from NHS Test and Trace.

What happens if the test is negative?

They will be able to stay in school and resume their activities as normal. A pupil 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 pupils may need to repeat the test if the first test was invalid or void for some reason.

What if a close contact at school/college tests positive?

A close contact of someone in school/college who has tested positive for COVID-19 will be able to return to school if they agree to be tested once a day for 7 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 of [school/college] 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.

What if my child develops symptoms?

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.

NHS Test and Trace consent form for COVID-19 testing

• For pupils younger than 16 years – this form must be completed by the parent or legal guardian. Please complete one consent form for each child you wish to enrol. 

1. I have had the opportunity to consider the information provided by the school/college about the testing, ask questions and have had these answered satisfactorily, based on the information presented in the letter dated 21/12/2020.

2. In the case of under 16s, I have discussed the testing with my child and my child is happy to participate. If on the day of testing they do not wish to take part, then they will not be made to do so and consent can be withdrawn at any time ahead of the test.

3. I consent to having / my child having a nose and throat swab for a lateral flow test.

4. I consent that my / my child’s sample(s) will be tested for the presence of COVID-19.

5. I understand that if my child result(s) are negative on the lateral flow test I will not be contacted by the school except where they are a close contact of a confirmed positive.

6. If the lateral flow test indicates the presence of COVID-19, I consent to my child having / having a nose and throat swab for confirmatory PCR testing, which shall be sent the same day to an NHS Test & Trace laboratory.

7. I consent that they will need to self-isolate following a positive lateral flow test result, until the results of the confirmatory PCR have been received.

8. I agree that if my child’s test results are confirmed to be positive from this PCR test, I will report this to the school and I understand that my child will be required to self-isolate following public health advice.

9. I consent that if a close contact of my child tests positive but my child has tested negative, they will continue to attend school college but will be tested every day at school for 7 days.

Name of pupil to be tested (print)
Year group
Name of parent or guardian
Relationship to child if under 16 
Last updated December 21, 2020