The Government recently announced the roll out of lateral flow testing to secondary and special schools, and schools in Wolverhampton have been busy making preparations – with the support of the City of Wolverhampton Council – to enable staff and children to get tested if required.
Several local schools either have or are in the process of introduced rapid testing, which will enable them to carry out routine testing of staff and students who are currently able to attend school. This will help to provide reassurance, reduce the risk of transmission and enable staff and students to remain in school.
Councillor Dr Michael Hardacre, Cabinet Member for Education and Skills, said: "Regular testing in schools will not only help them to remain open for our most vulnerable pupils and the children of key workers throughout the current lockdown, but also put them in a good place to welcome back all students as soon as they are able to do so.”
Among the first pupils to have a rapid test in school was Oliver Edwards of Our Lady and St Chad's Catholic Academy. The Year 7 student said: "Having the test has actually made me feel really safe to be in school. I thought that when I was having the test that it was going to be awful, but after, I was just like, that was fine. It only gave me the urge to sneeze."
Mum Kristie said: "I was a bit worried about having to send Oliver into school, but now I feel really reassured that it is a safe environment. School is the best place for him and I am very grateful that he can be there.
"The regular testing makes it safer and it means that we can pick up the positive cases before they spread."
CEO of St Francis and St Clare Catholic Multi Academy Company Toni Ellis said: "It is simply brilliant how quickly and effectively the teams at Our Lady and St Chad's and St Edmund's Catholic academies have worked to set up rapid testing zones and have trained staff to secure the safest environment possible for our staff and young people on site.
"The support available from colleagues at the council has been truly appreciated. This really is a community effort."
Rapid testing is only available to people without symptoms of Covid-19 and uses lateral flow test technology to provide results in under an hour. It can identify cases in people who don't have symptoms but could still be infectious; they can then self-isolate to prevent the transmission of the virus onto others.
From tomorrow (Tuesday), teachers and other staff working in education and Early Years settings, including cleaners, catering, administration and other support staff, will be eligible for priority Covid-19 rapid testing at the city’s at Pendeford Library between 7am and 10am and 4pm and 6pm, Monday to Friday. Staff should bring their work ID or a pay slip to confirm eligibility.
Anyone with symptoms of Covid-19 – a new, continuous cough, a fever or a loss or change to their sense of taste or smell – are reminded they must book a PCR test at GOV.UK or by calling 119.