Testing, Self Isolation & Quarantine - FAQs
This information is subject to change and will be reviewed when the guidance for new rules after the 16th August have been confirmed.
FAQs for schools
Testing and self-isolation
Who needs a test?
If a child or staff member is unwell with any of the four major COVID-19 symptoms (however mild), they need to self-isolate for 10 days from the onset of symptoms, or until they get a negative test result.
All their household members also need to self-isolate for 10 days, unless the person with symptoms receives a negative test result. They do not need to be tested unless they develop symptoms themselves.
The four defined symptoms are:
- A new, continuous cough (defined as coughing for more than an hour, or three or more coughing episodes in 24 hours)
- Fever (feeling hot to the touch, or a temperature over 37.8 degrees. NB ‘non-contact’ infra-red thermometers are less reliable than ear thermometers)
- Loss of/ change to sense of taste or smell
If a teacher or child has been showing symptoms but the test returns negative can they return to school?
Yes as long as any other members of their household who have also shown symptoms have also been tested and have negative test results.
A teacher or child has been in contact with someone with COVID-19. Can they attend to school?
Yes as long as they do not have any symptoms and have been double jabbed or are under the age of 18.
What about children or staff who are unwell with other symptoms? Can’t COVID-19 symptoms be unusual or absent in children?
Particularly in children, it is true that COVID-19 can present in unusual ways, and that children may have mild symptoms or be asymptomatic. However, evidence suggests that most people who have COVID and show symptoms will have one of the four main symptoms.
We also know that children will typically have several colds and other viruses over the course of a school term. If we test every time a child is unwell, it is likely to overwhelm testing capacity and mean tests are not available for people who have ‘classic’ symptoms and are much more likely to have COVID.
If a child or staff member is unwell with symptoms other than the four above (e.g. runny nose/ sneezing, upset stomach, sore throat, headache) then it is advisable for them to remain off school until they are symptom-free. They do not need to self-isolate or get tested for COVID.
Can School ask for proof of a negative test result before allowing a child back to school?
Test results go only to the person tested, or to their parent/carer. Results are normally shared by text or email to the person concerned.
This is personal medical information so as the DfE guidelines state, you cannot demand proof of a negative test result. It is to be hoped that most parents would work with school and share test results voluntarily.
However, if parents are unwilling to share a test result, and their child is self-isolating because they have COVID-19 symptoms, then you must proceed on the assumption that the result is positive, to protect others in school. This means that the child needs to self-isolate for 10 days from the start of symptoms, and everyone in their household must self-isolate for 14 days.
What if I do not want to get my child tested?
It is important to remember that it is not appropriate, and almost always illegal, to compel somebody to have any medical procedure on themselves or their family, including COVID testing.
If your child has COVID-19 symptoms and you are unwilling to get them tested, then the school must proceed on the assumption that they may have COVID-19. This means they must self-isolate for 10 days from the start of symptoms and not return to school until symptom-free. Their household members must all self-isolate for 14 days.
What if I am really struggling to get a test for my child, or I don’t feel confident in undertaking the swab?
We recommend our Wakefield local testing service as a first port of call on 01924 22 44 97. If you want school to ring on your behalf to arrange a test for your child, the local testing number can support this as long as you, as the parent, has consented to them doing so and the school has a record this.
The local service can support parents to book a test at mobile testing units. They can also offer a ‘drop off and take away’ (DOTA) service where they bring a test to the home, wait while it’s completed and pick it up again.
Assisted swabbing for 5-12 year olds is offered, where a health visitor will come to the home to swab the child. Capacity is limited so parents may be asked to try the DOTA service first. If the parent is very unlikely to be able to manage the test themselves, they can move straight to the assisted swabbing option – please call or ask the parent to call the local testing service to discuss.
Schools have been issued a supply of kits, when should I request a kit from them?
Each school has recently been issued with a small supply of ten testing kits. The stated intention is that these should be given to parents only in exceptional circumstances, when they would not or could not access a test by any of the usual routes. It is not yet clear when or how often schools can re-order these.
Parents still have to take the swab on their child and return it via a Royal Mail priority postbox. find a priority postbox
Our local testing service on 01924 22 44 97 may be a better alternative if parents are struggling with the process. The service can support parents to book an appointment, support teachers to book on parents’ behalf, can ‘drop off and take away’ to the parents’ home, and can book the parents into the assisted swabbing service.
What about face coverings in school?
If you or your child wishes to wear a face covering they may do so.