As schools and colleges prepare for all students to return from next Monday (8 March), the government has confirmed that regular lateral flow testing will take place to help keep pupils and teachers safe.
As well as testing taking place in all secondary schools and college settings, tests will be available for free to all households with primary, secondary school and college aged children and young people, including their childcare and support bubbles.
This will help to find more Covid-19 (coronavirus) cases, break chains of transmission and help keep educational settings as safe as possible.
A statement from Bedford Borough Council said: “It is important to remember that a negative rapid test does not completely rule out infection, and social distancing and infection prevention measures (e.g. Hands – Face – Space) should continue.
“If you do test positive following a lateral flow test, you must follow self-isolating guidelines and arrange for a standard PCR test.”
Lateral flow tests do not replace the standard PCR test and anyone who has COVID-19 symptoms (high temperature, a new, continuous cough, or a loss or change to sense of smell or taste) must arrange a test.
These can be booked via gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test or by calling 119.
Cllr Louise Jackson, portfolio holder for health and wellbeing said: “Around one in three people with COVID-19 don’t have any symptoms, so we must all continue to remember Hands – Face – Space.
“Regular rapid testing of household members is another way we can help to ensure our schools and colleges remain as safe as possible for students and staff.”
Schools aiming to make testing ‘part of the daily routine’
Ruth Wilkes, Federation Principal at Castle Newnham, told the Bedford Independent that they’ve extended their existing testing facility in preparation for the staggered return of their students from next Monday.
“We have a team of trained staff and volunteers who have been running testing efficiently since January for children and staff on site in the drama studio,” she said.
“Thankfully we’ve had no positive tests and everyone being tested has got so used to it that it feels very much like part of the daily routine now.
“Staff will be on hand throughout to help and reassure the pupils who are new to testing. Our priority is to keep everyone safe and to keep the school open to the maximum numbers as we know how important it it to our children and community.
“We can’t wait to see everyone next week.”
Where to get hold of a test kit
Rapid test kits for home use can be collected from some local testing sites. You can find out where they are here.
Most collection points are open from 1.30pm to 7pm and although you do not need to make an appointment, please do not visit a collection point outside opening hours, as it may be used to test people with coronavirus symptoms outside these times.
For those who are unable to collect the rapid test kits, a limited number are available to order online:gov.uk/order-coronavirus-rapid-lateral-flow-tests
The full guidance for households and support bubbles of school pupils and staff, now eligible for twice-weekly rapid testing is available here.