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Pupils: Coronavirus

Question for Department for Education

UIN 158176, tabled on 24 February 2021

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to ensure the (a) accuracy and (b) availability of covid-19 test at-home kits for secondary school pupils, as required twice a week when they return to school.

Answered on

8 March 2021

Lateral Flow Device (LFD) tests have been widely and successfully used to detect asymptomatic COVID-19 cases. The speed and convenience of the tests supports the detection of the virus in asymptomatic individuals, who would not otherwise have been tested. LFD tests are approved by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, and are highly specific, with a low chance of false positive test results. They are also very sensitive and able to identify the majority of the most infectious yet asymptomatic individuals. These tests are an additional layer of health protection in addition to hand washing, face covering and social distancing.

For students, they will need to be tested 3 times at an onsite asymptomatic testing site, upon their return to school or college. The Department is aware that LFD tests are more effective when individuals are used to swabbing so this will give students the opportunity to become used to swabbing in a supervised environment first. They will then be provided with home test kits for twice weekly testing.

Test kits are being delivered to secondary schools and colleges from 24 February 2021. There will be a sufficient number of kits for the first 3 to 4 weeks of testing. Secondary schools and colleges will then automatically receive a re-stock of test at home kits between 8 March and 15 March so pupils can collect them after test 3. Schools can provide testing kits in 2 packs of 3, or 1 pack of 7 to each member of staff or student so that they are able to test twice a week.

Students aged 18 and over should self-test and report the result, with assistance if needed. Students aged between 12 and 17 should self-test and report with adult supervision. The adult may conduct the test if necessary. When testing at home, children aged 11 who attend a secondary school, should be tested by an adult.

From 15 March onwards there will be a reordering process for schools and colleges to receive more test stock. It will be the responsibility of the school or college to manage test stock and reordering, as well as exercising appropriate oversight and governance of the testing programme.