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COVID-19 - Testing for secondary school and college students

Your child’s nursery, school or college should be taking part in the symptom-free testing programme. Please help nurseries, childminders, schools, and colleges to create the safest possible environments by following the advice below and the wider public health advice and guidance.

Symptom-free testing using lateral flow devices (or ‘LFDs’) in education settings will help to identify staff and pupils who are infectious but do not have any COVID-19 symptoms.

All secondary-aged pupils and college students are provided with home test kits from their education setting. They are asked to test themselves twice a week at home and report the results to NHS Test and Trace, as well as to their school or college. Schools and colleges will retain their own small testing sites so that pupils who are unable to test themselves at home can still participate. 

Testing is voluntary and your child will not be tested unless they (18+) or you or another parent or carer (for children ged under 18) have given informed consent. 

We strongly encourage you and your child to take part in testing as it helps to break chains of transmission, manage the virus and keep people safe.

Your child will not be stopped from returning to school or college if you or they choose not to be tested and will return to face-to-face education in line with their school or college’s arrangements.  

Further information

Further information about school and at-home symptom-free testing for secondary and college students is available below. 

For information about symptom-free testing for all residents in Walsall, including FAQs, please see the symptom-free testing page

Testing for secondary school pupils and college students

All secondary-aged pupils and college students will be given home test kits and be asked to test themselves twice a week at home and report the results to NHS Test and Trace, as well as to their school or college. Schools and colleges will retain their own small testing sites so that pupils who are unable to test themselves at home can still participate.

Students aged 18 and over should self-test and report the result, with assistance if needed. If your child is aged 12 to 17, they will need adult supervision to self-test and report. You or another adult may conduct the test if necessary. If your child is aged 11 and attending a secondary school, you or another adult should conduct the test.

Watch the NHS video guide to help your child with COVID-19 test.

Symptom-free testing during school holidays

Over the school holidays, staff and pupils at secondary schools and colleges should continue to take a symptom free test every 3–4 days and report results as positive, negative or void.  

A symptom-free test should also be taken before returning for a new term. The test must be conducted either the night before, or morning of, the first day back in order to identify and isolate any potential cases.  

Reporting results of symptom-free tests

Anyone who takes a symptom-free test is required to report every result, regardless of whether it is positive, negative or void. Results can be reported online or via telephone by calling 119 (free from mobiles and landlines). Lines are open every day, 7am to 11pm. 

If your child tests positive

If your child tests positive using a symptom-free test you will need to: 

If your child test positive with a PCR test through the NHS then they will need to: 

  • Self-isolate for 10 days and follow the national guidance. Anyone who they live with, and anyone in their support bubble, must self-isolate for 10 days from when the child who has returned the positive case starts self-isolating. 

If your child tests positive but did not have symptoms at the time of the test, they must self-isolate for 10 days from the date of the test. If they do not develop symptoms during self-isolation, they can return to school on day 11 if they are well enough to do so. 

If your child or anyone in the household develops symptoms during this isolation period, you must re-start your 10-day isolation from the day symptoms develop. 

Find out more about what symptom-free test results mean.

If your child tests negative

A negative test result is not a guarantee that your child does not have COVID-19 even if they have no symptoms, and it is possible that they may have COVID-19 (for example if the level of infection in their body at the time of the test was not yet enough to be detected by the test or if they have become infected since the swab was taken) and they may still spread it. It is important to continue to follow guidance on social distancing, hand washing, wearing a face covering and other virus prevention measures whatever the test result.

Symptom-free home or school testing does not replace NHS PCR testing and it should only be used if your child does not have symptoms. 

If your child has any symptoms of COVID-19, however mild, you should book a PCR test with the NHS.

Find out more about what symptom-free test results mean

If you child's test returns a 'void' result

If your child's symptom-free test returns a void result, another symptom-free must be taken as soon as possible. 

Find out more about what symptom-free test results mean

Nurseries and primary schools

Pre-school children and primary-aged pupils do not need to be regularly tested. However, staff will be taking part in the symptom-free testing programme.

When your child does not need a test

Your child does not need a test if they:

  • have a runny nose, are sneezing or feeling unwell but do not have a temperature, cough or loss/change in sense of smell or taste
  • are advised to self-isolate because they have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, for example, another pupil in their class, but are not showing symptoms themselves.

If your child is identified as a close contact of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 and is asked to self-isolate, you do not need to self-isolate unless your child develops symptoms. This also applies to other members of your household (including any other children in the same school or college).

Testing and self-isolation if your child has COVID-19 symptoms

Do not send your child to their nursery, childminder, school or college if:

  • they are showing one or more symptoms of COVID-19
  • someone in their household is showing symptoms
  • someone in their support bubble has symptoms and they have been in close contact with them since the symptoms started or during the 48 hours before they started
  • they or someone in their household has tested positive for COVID-19
  • they are required to quarantine having recently visited a red list travel ban country.

If you or your child develop symptoms, self-isolate immediately and book a test online or by calling 119. Then inform your nursery, childminder, school or college of the results.

If the test is positive, continue to self-isolate for 10 days from the day symptoms started and engage with NHS Test and Trace.

Other household members (including any siblings) should self-isolate from the day you or your child’s symptoms started (or the day they took a test if they did not have symptoms) and the next 10 full days. 

If your child or someone in your household has tested positive while not experiencing symptoms but develops symptoms during the isolation period, they should restart the 10-day isolation period from the day they developed symptoms. 

If your child displays symptoms or has a positive test result while at school or college, they should be collected from school immediately by a member of their family or household wherever possible. They should not use public transport. In exceptional circumstances, if you cannot arrange to have your child collected and they cannot walk, cycle or scoot home, alternative arrangements may need to be organised by the nursery, childminder, school or college. 

If your child has been a close contact of someone who has tested positive and then develops symptoms but has a negative test result, they will still need to self-isolate for the full 10 days from the day after contact with the person who tested positive. 

 

Testing for households of school pupils and staff

All residents in Walsall can now access free, twice-weekly symptom-free COVID-19 testing. For more information please see the symptom-free testing for all residents page

FAQs ― for parents and carers of school-aged children

General back to school information is available on our COVID-19: Information for Parents page. For information about symptom-free testing for all residents in Walsall, including FAQs, please see the symptom-free testing page

What if I don’t have access to the internet, how will I report results?

Please phone 119 (free from mobiles and landlines). Lines are open every day, 7am to 11pm.

How will school staff and pupils get access to tests?

Primary staff collect home tests from their schools to enable them to test twice weekly.

Secondary staff get twice-weekly testing in school at the moment, but will be able to collect test kits for home testing in the coming weeks.

Secondary pupils, on return to school, will have access to on site testing initially of three tests, 3–5 days apart and then they will be supplied with home test kits to continue twice weekly testing at home.

If someone else in my household/bubble tests positive but I test negative do I still need to isolate?

Yes. Please read the government guidance at COVID-19: guidance for households with possible coronavirus infection

If I test positive does my primary school aged child need to have a test?

If your child is your close contact they must self-isolate for 10 days. If your child develops any COVID-19 symptoms, you should book at PCR test for them using the online booking portal or by phoning NHS 119 if you cannot access the online booking portal.

Please note NHS 119 can only offer the same appointments available online so please use the online route if you have access.

If a parent of a child in my child’s class tests positive does the whole class have to isolate?

The school will complete a risk assessment (following notification of this positive result) to identify any close contacts of the parent with positive test and notify parents/carers if their child is required to self-isolate. NHS Track and Trace will complete the contact tracing for other close contacts outside of school.

There are multiple adults living in my household, can I order home testing kits for all of us as one request or does this need to be done separately?

When ordering online, you will be told how to collect/ receive your tests.

If you are directed to collect tests from a local test site you will be provided with two boxes that contain seven tests each (14 tests) based on your household taking twice weekly tests.

If you have a larger household or are also collecting for your childcare bubble you may be eligible to collect up to four boxes (28 tests).

My child has a cough/fever/loss of smell or taste ― should I use one of these home tests to check if I have COVID-19?

No. The home test kits are for people without symptoms. If your child or anyone in your household develops any COVID-19 symptoms, book at PCR test for them using the online booking portal or by phoning NHS 119 if you cannot access the online booking portal.

Please note NHS 119 can only offer the same appointments available online so please use the online route if you have access.

Why are you not testing primary school children?

Public Health England (PHE) have advised:

  • Serious COVID-19related illness is rare in children.
  • Rates of COVID-19 among primary school pupils broadly reflect those of the wider community.
  • Primary schools can remain open without regular COVID-19 testing of primary school children.
  • There is no evidence to suggest there is an advantage of COVID-19 testing of primary school children who do not have symptoms when considering the overall wellbeing of the child.

How many tests am I allowed to pick up from a test site?

When ordering online, you will be told how to collect/ receive your tests.

If you are directed to collect tests from a local test site you will be provided with two boxes that contain seven tests each (14 tests) based on your household taking twice weekly tests.

If you have a larger household or are also collecting for your childcare bubble you may be eligible to collect up to four boxes (28 tests).

How long will I need to do this testing for?

Testing will need to take place every 3–5 days (twice weekly) during term time as well as school holidays.