Plans have been announced for the roll-out of serial Coronavirus testing in schools and colleges in Wales from January.
The plans, announced today by the Welsh Government, will see pupils and staff that are identified as close contacts to those who have tested positive for COVID-19 being asked to take a lateral flow test for the virus each day at the start of the school day for the duration of the normal 10-day self-isolation period.
Those who test negative would be able to continue attending school as normal, while those that test positive would have to self-isolate at home and book a confirmatory Coronavirus test.
Those who wish to self-isolate at home for 10 days as normal will still be allowed to do so, it is understood.
Schools and colleges are to be offered support, equipment and training for the testing and all staff working in special schools will also be offered weekly testing. The new testing scheme is designed to help reduce disruption to education while helping to control the Coronavirus pandemic in Wales.
Announcing the plans, Welsh Education Minister Kirsty Williams said;
“We recognise that it has not been easy for pupils and staff who have been required to self-isolate as a result of having been identified as a ‘close contact’ and we recognise the impact it has had on face-to-face teaching.
“Earlier this month we announced the reduction in the period of time for which a person needs to self-isolate from 14 days to 10 days.
“Following discussions with Public Health Wales and the Children and Schools Technical Advisory Cell, we are pleased to confirm that we will introduce a serial testing programme in schools and further education settings in the new year.”
Lateral flow tests are handheld devices which produce results within 20 to 30 minutes, with the potential to be self-administered.
The plans are set to see testing rolled out to secondary schools and further education settings first, then to primary and childcare settings.
Due to a ‘very serious’ situation throughout Wales in relation to COVID-19, secondary schools and colleges closed on Friday and students are now completing the Autumn term online.