Dear students and staff,
Happy new year to you all and I hope you had a restful break with your families.
In order to put in place further measures to keep students and staff safe, the government announced a mass testing programme for the education sector just before the Christmas break. The testing for those without coronavirus symptoms is beginning across the country using new, quicker COVID-19 tests known as ‘lateral flow tests’.
Along with the other protective measures we are taking, these tests will help staff and students to remain in the college safely. Up to one third of people who have coronavirus experience no symptoms. By testing, we will help to stop the virus spread and help to keep our college open as safely as possible. The test is voluntary, but I would encourage everyone to take it.
We will be testing all consenting staff and students from the week commencing 4 January 2021 in the following order:
- Vulnerable staff and students from 4 January
- Second year students and all staff from 11 January
- First year students from 18 January
Those taking the test will be supervised by trained staff. The ‘lateral flow’ tests are quick and easy using a swab of your nose and throat. For under 18s, staff can oversee the swab process.
Results (which take around half an hour from testing) will be shared directly with staff and students participating.
What if a student or staff tests positive?
Participating staff and students who test positive will be informed about their results individually. Guidance on safe travel and additional precautions will be provided along with test results.
Pupils will need to take a further ‘PCR test’ (similar to those done in local and regional testing sites) on the same day (or as soon as possible). During this time while they wait for the PCR result (via text/email) they will need to self-isolate.
If the PCR test returns a positive result you will have to self-isolate and follow the guidance from NHS Test and Trace.
What happens if the test is negative?
They will be able to stay in college and resume their activities as normal. A student will only be told if they test positive on a ‘lateral flow’ test, so if you do not hear you can assume it was negative. A small number of students may need to repeat the test if the first test was invalid or void for some reason.
What if a close contact at the college tests positive?
A close contact of someone in the college who has tested positive for COVID-19 will be able to return to college if they agree to be tested once a day for 7 days and the test is negative. If they do not want to take the test, they will need to self-isolate as per the national guidelines. This does not apply to household members or close contacts outside of the college who will still need to self-isolate. Further details will be provided at the time, but if you would prefer to self-isolate instead of doing daily testing, you can. However, the tests are highly recommended so attendance at the college can continue.
What if I develop symptoms?
This testing programme at the college is for people with no symptoms. If you develop symptoms at any time (such as a high temperature, a new, continuous cough, or a loss or change to their sense of smell or taste) they must immediately self-isolate, and book a test by calling 119 (England, Wales, and Northern Ireland) or 0300 303 2713 (Scotland) or visiting https://www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test.
For further information or clarification please email using the following and one of the Assistant Principals will be in touch:
Prior Pursglove College – firstname.lastname@example.org
Stockton Sixth Form College – email@example.com
Principal of Prior Pursglove and Stockton Sixth Form College