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COVID-19: Free symptom free testing for pupils' families and carers

COVID-19: Free symptom free testing for pupils' families and carers
Published on 05 March 2021 Print

With all children due to return to the classroom on 08 March, symptom free testing is  key to continuity of education for children.

Therefore, Walsall parents and carers with primary school, secondary school and college age children - including childcare and support bubbles, are advised to test themselves twice every week at home, as schools return from Monday 8 March. Finding more people who don’t have symptoms but carry the virus is very important. It means we can stop them from entering education settings and this that will help break transmission chains. The tests will also be offered to adults working in the wider school community, including school transport and after school club leaders. 

The twice-weekly test kits in Walsall (for people feeling well, with no coronavirus symptoms - in the above-mentioned groups) can be accessed as follows:

1. By collecting a home test kit from an NHS “Test & trace” site

Anyone aged 18 or over can collect testing kits - there is no need to book an appointment to collect your testing kit, you can just turn up.  You can collect 2 packs of home test kits at a local collection point, each pack contains 7 tests.

You can check online if the location is busy before you go. Tests can be collected from any of the test centres shown on the NHS map.

Find your nearest home test kit collection point

2. By going to a community-test site

You can have a symptom free test at one of the seven community sites in Walsall.  Testing at these sites is assisted, which means you will swab yourself under the supervision of a trained operator.

Find out more on our website

3. By contacting your employer, if your employer provides testing

Some employers may be offering rapid testing, please check with your employer to see if this option is available to you

4. By ordering online a home test kit 

If you cannot get tested at your workplace, or are unable to go to a test site or collect test kits, you can order a home test kit online. Please do not order online if you can get a test through other methods. This frees up home delivery for those who need it most.

If you have any symptoms of COVID-19 you should book a test online or by calling 119.

Stephen Gunther, Director of Public Health said;

“Around 1 in 3 people with coronavirus do not have symptoms but can still pass it on to others. Regular testing of people without symptoms is important to help stop the virus spreading. By finding positive cases more quickly we can break chains of transmission.

“We are continuing to see a rapid expansion of the symptom free testing programme in Walsall over the next few weeks, building upon our community testing offer for critical workers. At this time, unless you are a critical worker or need to travel to take children to or from school then please continue to remain at home apart from essential reasons. If you are not currently eligible for testing, please stay home and stay safe."

  • As with any COVID-19 testing, all results must be reported to NHS Test and Trace as soon as the test is completed, either online or by telephone, as set out in the home test kit instructions whether it is positive or negative.
  • If the test is positive then you and your household must self-isolate immediately, tell your workplace and / or your child’s school and book a further PCR test to confirm the result. This can be booked via the NHS COVID app, online or by calling 119.

Stephen Gunther also added: “I know for some people having a negative test result might provide a sense of relief, but I need to be clear that a negative result does not mean that we can carry on as normal. The result means that the test did not find signs of coronavirus at the time of taking the test, it does not guarantee you do not have coronavirus.

“It is vital that everyone continues to follow all coronavirus advice. This includes regular handwashing, social distancing and wearing a face covering where recommended.”

Councillor Stephen Craddock, Portfolio Holder for Health and Wellbeing said;

“With schools going back from 8 March, we are encouraging adults of all households and support bubbles of school-aged children to get a symptom free test regularly, if they are feeling well and don’t display any virus symptoms.

“Also, if you have to go to leave your house to go to work and you are feeling well, please make sure you also have a test twice a week at our community sites. Anyone with any coronavirus symptoms is advised to book a test immediately at one of the borough’s NHS “Test & trace” sites.

“As we start to see lockdown restrictions ease we all need to play our part to help protect each other and testing is one way to help do that.”  

~END~

Notes to editors

In line with the government's road map to get children safely back to schools, twice-weekly symptom free testing using lateral flow tests is now being extended to households in Walsall who have children and young people in primary, secondary school or college. 

Primary school pupils will not be asked to test at this time but will continue to be encouraged to come forward for tests if they have symptoms. Find out about childcare bubbles and support bubbles.

From 8 March pupils return to face-to-face education in school and further education in England. Wraparound childcare, such as after-school clubs, can reopen to enable parents to work, attend education, access medical care or attend a support group.

Further information about rapid testing for households and bubbles of school pupils and staff is included in the government’s recently published guidance.