Please find below three guidance updates on testing in schools:
- Confirmatory PCR tests. Colleagues will be aware that the requirement for a confirmatory PCR test, in the event of a member of staff getting a positive lateral flow device (LFD) result, has been removed for all such tests not being conducted at home. Primary school staff who get a positive LFD test are therefore still required to get a PCR in order to confirm the result, whereas Secondary school staff are not. The DfE have just released a helpful FAQ clarifying how Primary schools should treat a positive LFD from a contact tracing point of view: [Primary schools should still] send home those people who have been in close contact with the person who has tested positive, as defined in the actions for schools during the coronavirus outbreak guidance. Those who have come into close contact with staff who have a positive LFD result should isolate straight away rather than waiting for the staff member’s confirmatory positive PCR test. The staff member’s household should also isolate immediately after the positive LFD result, as per the stay-at-home guidance.
- Asymptomatic LFD testing for staff who are post-COVID. Staff who have had COVID-19 within the last 90 days can be assumed to have sufficient acquired immunity to make re-infection extremely unlikely, and are also more likely to get false positive PCR results, during that time period. On this basis, anyone who is within 90-days of confirmed COVID-19 (with their onset of symptoms or initial positive test counting as day zero, whichever came first) do not need to be included in routine asymptomatic LFD testing.
- Twice weekly staff testing. National guidance now recommends that staff are tested twice weekly. Obviously, some schools – particularly Secondaries who have to conduct testing within the school day – will vary in their capacity to test this frequently, but if it is possible then twice-weekly is now the recommended option.
We are awaiting a national decision on full school re-opening, as well as on how this will change the above testing guidance.
Consultant in Public Health
Adults and Health Directorate