School staff and pupils without symptoms asked to take regular Covid tests
School staff and pupils will be asked to take regular Covid tests when the new term starts, the Welsh Government has announced.
With schools, colleges and universities due to re-open following the summer holidays, parents, guardians and learners in Wales are being asked to take some steps to help keep Covid risk down and learners learning.
According to the guidance from Jeremy Miles, the Minister for Education, staff in primary schools and staff and learners in secondary schools and colleges not showing symptoms should take regular rapid lateral flow tests twice a week, as well as report the results online.
They should also do so in the week leading up to the first day back.
Ahead of the start of the new school year, the Welsh Government is asking families and learners to continue to follow guidance on isolating, testing and vaccination, to minimise the risk of the spread of Covid in education settings.
The guidance says:
- Get the vaccine if it’s offered to you.
- Maintain regular handwashing.
- Any staff or learner with symptoms of Covid-19 – however mild – should stay at home and book a PCR test at their closest test site.
- Staff in primary schools – and staff and learners in secondary schools and colleges – without symptoms should take two lateral flow tests (LFTs), three days apart during the week leading up to their first day back. If the test is positive they should self-isolate, and book a PCR test.
- Going into the new term, staff in primary schools and staff and learners in secondary schools and colleges not showing symptoms should continue to take regular rapid lateral flow tests twice a week, and report the results online.
- Learners Years 7 and above should continue to wear face coverings on school and college transport.
- Staff and learners should use any LFTs they have in their household first, or order tests online for free, or collect them from community collection points or pharmacies. Schools will provide LFTs during term time.
‘Unknowingly spread the virus’
The Welsh Government says taking the tests regularly – especially at times when cases are higher – increases the chance of identifying infectious staff or learners before they leave the house to go to school, and unknowingly spread the virus to their friends or family.
Regular testing will also help reduce transmission in our communities, protect the most vulnerable and reduce disruption to-face-to face education.
Jeremy Miles, the Minister for Education and Welsh Language, said: “Earlier in the summer, I wanted to ensure that at the start of the 2021/22 school year, we could keep learners and staff safe, and lessen the possible disruptions posed by Covid-19.
“By now, all of our workforce will either have received or been offered a vaccine. We have also offered the vaccine to all of Wales 16 and 17 year olds, and will offer it to clinically vulnerable 12 to 15 year olds.
“This means the risks posed by Covid are much lower – but we still need people to follow some rules, to make sure we don’t risk the level of disruption of day-to-day learning that we saw during the pandemic.”
The Minister added: “I’d like to thank everyone across Wales for their efforts in helping us to get to this point. And by continuing to follow these measures, we can all look forward to starting a safer and more stable year, in which schools and colleges will be the safest place learners can be.”