Covid: Returning school pupils asked to take regular tests

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School corridor with secondary school pupils wearing masksImage source, Getty Images
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All pupils are asked to maintain regular handwashing and get the Covid vaccine if it is available to them

Welsh government guidance for children returning to school this September includes twice-weekly lateral flow tests for secondary pupils.

Secondary school and college students are also asked to take two of the tests, three days apart, in the week before their return.

In primary schools only staff members are expected to get regular tests.

School leaders' union NAHT Cymru said they "welcome" regular testing.

In the event of a positive lateral flow test result, pupils are asked to self-isolate and book a PCR test.

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Only staff members in primary schools are asked to get regular lateral flow tests

The Welsh government said taking these tests regularly helped with "identifying infectious staff or learners before they leave the house to go to school".

Learners in Year 7 and above are asked to continue wearing face coverings in school and on college transport.

What are the full guidelines for pupils returning to school?

  • 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
  • Staff in primary schools, and staff and learners in secondary schools and colleges, should take two lateral flow tests in the week leading up to their first day back
  • They should continue to take regular rapid lateral flow tests twice a week
  • Learners in Years 7 and above should continue to wear face coverings on school and college transport

Wales' Education Minister Jeremy Miles highlighted that the first vaccine dose had been offered to all 16 and 17-year-olds, and clinically vulnerable 12 to 15-year-olds.

"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," he added.

Laura Doel, director of school leaders' union NAHT Cymru, said they "welcome the continuation of lateral flow testing as one of a number of mitigation measures".

"However, while lateral flow tests have a role to play in preventing the spread of Covid-19, they should not be the only measure to rely on.

"It is vital that, as cases in Wales start to rise, we maintain robust measures in schools to protect learners and staff," she added.