Dear Parents, Carers and Families,
As promised, this is a letter about lateral flow testing (herein called ‘testing’) for our secondary pupils. Nonetheless, ALL pupils, no matter what age, are welcome back at Milestone Academy on Monday 8th March, irrespective of if a pupil tests in school or in the future tests at home or not at all.
To support Milestone Academy’s position, I wish to quote from recent DfE guidance issued this week on lateral flow testing in specialist SEN settings, which clearly says: “Settings should NOT make it a requirement for a child or young person to have been tested in order to attend their setting” (DFE 1st March 2021)
What this letter focuses on is secondary aged pupils whose parents, families and carers wish for their pupil to be tested in the first instance at school – the DFE’s intention is that once pupils are tested 3 times over the course of 15 days then pupils will move to doing this testing at home, which we believe will start no earlier than 15th March.
Should you NOT want your son daughter to be tested at school but want this testing to occur solely at home I will in a few days’ time be sending a separate letter informing parents, families and carers about home testing arrangements – a programme which we think will start from no earlier than 15th March.
Should you NOT want your son/daughter tested either at school (and then home) or solely at home, then your son or daughter simply attends and we do not involve her/him in any test process.
Information for those parents, families and carers wanting testing to be initially carried out at Milestone Academy main site or a satellite
At the outset two key facts need to be stated:
- The pupil will be self-administering this test under the guidance of externally employed Health Care Assistants with our staff in attendance
- These self-administered tests carried out at school will occur 3 times over a period of 15 days starting 8th March, this would move to the pupil conducting the test at home and patently this home testing would start after the third test has been completed.
How does my son / daughter qualify to have this test at school?
Firstly parents/carers/families need to fill out the appropriate consent form:
Then the setting needs to factor in these two critical points from the DFE guidance:
- “It is important that the willingness of the child or young person and the risk posed to them and the staff or parent assisting the test is always considered. The setting should exercise due care and judgement and, in appropriate circumstances, may choose not to test a child or young person, even when consent has been given. Settings should not make it a requirement to have been tested in order to attend.” (DFE Testing guidance March 2021)
- “Even if the child or young person or the parent or legal guardian has given consent, if the individual at any point is not willing to participate in testing then that choice should be respected.” (DFE Testing guidance March 2021)
The setting should having applied the two factors above and then, drawing on the consent from parents/families/carers, will decide if the pupil is able to move to be tested or not.
How then will the testing work?
We would initially prepare our pupils by using the first couple days of term to show them support material publicly available for those approaching a test for the first time and, of course, responding to questions from pupils and generating discussion as to why these tests are occurring in order that we both inform and allay understandable anxieties amongst our pupils.
On the day of the test we would ensure our pupils on the main site are accompanied by members of their class team and led to the Drama centre (or Sports hall at our satellites), where we have been successfully operating a staff testing centre for the past number of weeks.
When the pupil arrives, they will give their name to an administrator on a reception desk, their name will then be checked against consent and then, if consent has been given, the pupil will move to the swabbing desk.
At this desk the pupil will be gently talked through the process by the Health Care Assistant.
The pupil will be asked to sit down, sanitise their hands, wipe the desk and then blow their nose – all cleaning products, tissues and hand gel will be provided.
The pupil will then be gently talked through how to administer the test on themselves by an experienced Health Care Assistant who operates close by but from behind a Perspex safety glass and is appropriately attired in full PPE (personal protection equipment).
Once the test is completed by the pupil the swab is placed in a plastic vial and taken by the HCA for testing and recording.
The pupil then again sanitizes their hands, wipes the desk and chair down, places their face mask on and returns to class.
The result of this test is then sent by text and email through the National Test and Trace System and on to the parent/families/carers’ contact email as they have recorded on to the consent form – in our experience this should occur within an hour of the test being completed but with schools returning nationally this time scale may turn out to be longer.
Should we learn that a pupil has tested positive we would isolate the pupil on site, call home for them to be immediately collected and close the bubble associated with that pupil for 10 days.
I/we wish my/our son/daughter to be tested at Milestone Academy three times across 15 working days from the week beginning 8th March. What do I need to do now?
Please fill in this consent form: LAT consent form for COVID-19 testing
If you require a hard copy of the form, please contact the school office at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Are there any links to the publicly available material on how the test is conducted?
This shows the home testing scenario but the same principles and actions will apply when a pupil self-tests with HCA support in school.
Will pupils in satellites get the same opportunity?
Yes, very much so – thanks to the excellent relations we have with The Leigh Academy and Wilmington Academy we have via the good offices of Julia Collins (Principal the Leigh Academy) and Michael Gore (Principal Wilmington Academy) been given time and space to use their in-house testing centres for our pupils to use. I, as Principal at Milestone, am indebted to Julia and Michael for their efforts, and also the efforts their staff have made, in order to bring this opportunity about.