Parents and pupils urged to participate in testing programme
As children prepare for the return to school next week, education and public health chiefs are urging people in Dudley borough to participate in NHS rapid testing for Covid-19.
It is estimated that around one in three cases of Covid-19 are asymptomatic and the programme has been created to help keep pupils and staff safer in school.
All secondary school pupils and anyone living with or in a bubble with any school age child can undertake lateral flow testing twice weekly, in order to reduce their chances of unknowingly passing on the virus.
Secondary school and college pupils will be invited to undertake their first three tests in school or college. This will help them to learn how the tests are undertaken and will give schools a chance to identify any potential cases during the initial return.
Parents are being urged to authorise the testing of their child, with each school communicating this to parents and students through their usual channels. After their first three tests have been completed in school, pupils will then be given packs to take away, allowing them to undertake the tests at home with parental support if needed.
Parents, carers and other people who live with school and college pupils of any age including primary can undertake twice weekly testing on themselves. Grandparents and other people who are in a childcare support bubble with school aged children are also invited to take part.
It is hoped the testing, which is for the parent, household member or carer only, will help to screen out households who are asymptomatic and reduce the risk of cases coming into schools.
People taking part are urged to have their first test at one of the lateral flow test centres. These are at Dudley Leisure Centre, Saltwells Education Centre, with pop-up sessions at Holy Trinity Church Community Centre in Wordsley, Lifecentral Church in Halesowen, St Andrews Church in Sedgley, St James Church in Wollaston and the Salvation Army Church in Lye. There is also testing at more than 30 pharmacies across the borough.
Packs of the self-managed tests can then be collected from a number of test centres across the borough for use at home, participants are asked to follow the steps carefully and report results each time.
All lateral flow tests are only suitable for people who are not symptomatic and those who are not currently isolating. For details on where you can get a lateral flow test and to book visit www.dudley.gov.uk/symptom-free-testing
People who are unable to travel to the centres can order a pack to be posted to their home. Due to limited capacity in the online system, residents are asked to only do this if they cannot collect for themselves.
Other people who need to leave the home for permitted reasons can also access lateral flow testing.
Councillor Nicolas Barlow, cabinet member for health and adult social care, said:
Lateral flow testing for those who are not displaying symptoms is one of the ways we can help to reduce the spread of coronavirus and protect the community around us.
I am pleased these tests are now available to all families with school age children and secondary school age pupils and I would encourage people across the borough who are eligible to take part to do so.
We are making great progress, but it is vital that everyone continues to stick to government rules of lockdown, regardless of lateral flow test results or if a person is vaccinated.
Primary children will be in class bubbles as defined by their school. Children will not receive lateral flow tests, but staff will be tested twice a week. Parents and carers are asked to stick to social distancing guidelines and wear facemasks on school grounds.
Each school will have its own safety measures in place and parents are being reminded to check with their school about their own localised plans.
Students at secondary school will be returning from March 8, but staggered starts are more likely and depend on each school’s own plans.
Secondary and college students are now expected to wear face masks in all areas where social distancing cannot be maintained, this includes classrooms, communal areas and school gates.
Councillor Ruth Buttery, cabinet member for children and young people said:
It’s really important that pupils and parents feel reassured about the return to school. I speak as a mum as well as a councillor when I say I have full confidence in the measures our schools have put in place to protect pupils, staff and parents.
Parents and carers and anyone else living with a school age child or young person are among the priority groups being given access to free home lateral flow testing kits to test themselves.
I would ask parents to familiarise themselves with their school’s policies and we are heartily encouraging all parents to give permission for their secondary school children to be tested to help keep our schools as safe as they can be for everyone.
To continue to reduce the spread of coronavirus, it is important all families adhere to the latest government advice which can be viewed online at www.gov.uk/coronavirus.
People must isolate and book a test if they or their child are showing symptoms. Children must be kept out of school if they or anyone in the household is awaiting a test result. Anyone who has a positive result in their household must follow isolation rules and should report to the school as soon as possible.
People with other symptoms such as upset stomach, sore throat, tiredness or headaches are also asked to seek a covid-19 test in Dudley borough in order to reduce the risk of spread in the area.
To book a Covid-19 test call 119 or visit www.nhs.uk/coronavirus