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Coronavirus - Latest Update

Important guidance for teachers currently working in schools 

Update 15 April 2021

Rapid Lateral Flow Testing
Further to our guidance issued on the 05 March 2021 we would like to update you regarding the latest news on Rapid Lateral Flow Testing.

The government has made this test much more accessible and it is now available to anyone in England who does not have symptoms of coronavirus (remember if you have coronavirus symptoms, you need a different test called a PCR test. 

The Rapid Lateral Flow Test usually involves rubbing a long cotton bud (swab) over your tonsils (or where they would have been) and inside your nose.  The tests can give you a result in 30 minutes as they use a device similar to a pregnancy test and do not need to be sent to a lab.  You can do a rapid test at home or at a rapid lateral flow test site. If you do the tests at home, you'll need to report your results online or on the phone – even if the results are negative.

Remember; If you test positive, you and anyone you live with will need to self-isolate and follow the latest government guidelines. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/self-isolation-and-treatment/

For staff on long-term assignments you will be asked by the school you are working at to conduct Rapid Laterall Flow tests.  The test will be provided by your school. 

For staff that are working on day to day assignments, we would advise that you obtain test kits and test yourself twice weekly, Every Sunday and Wednesday or a day which corresponds best to your normal weekly work pattern.

Test kits are now available online or from your local Pharmacy or test site.  You can collect up to 2 packs of 7 tests from a local pharmacy or test site:

• You can get a pack of 7 tests sent to your home. Order rapid lateral flow home test kits on GOV.UK
find a pharmacy where you can collect rapid tests
find a test site where you can collect rapid tests

Why is it important to get regularly tested?
About 1 in 3 people with coronavirus do not have symptoms but can still infect others.
Getting tested regularly is the only way to know if you have the virus. If people test positive and self-isolate, it helps stop the virus spreading.

Please note Rapid Lateral Flow Testing is not compulsory.  Staff who decline to participate in a testing programme should follow the usual national guidelines on self-isolation and anyone should get tested if they show symptoms.
Please could you inform us if you are conducting Rapid Flow Testing by replying to this email noting the usual days of the week you take the test.


Update 05 Mar 2021

The Department for Education has started a programme of asymptomatic Covid-19 testing in primary schools, school-based nurseries and maintained nursery schools.

Along with the other protective measures, testing will allow schools and nurseries to take further measures to help staff members to work in as safe an environment as possible. Up to one in three people who have Covid-19 have the virus without symptoms so could be transmitting the virus unknowingly. Tackling the pandemic requires identifying asymptomatic, infectious individuals. By testing, it will help to reduce the spread in schools.

Lateral Flow Device (LFD) tests have been widely and successfully used to detect COVID-19 in asymptomatic individuals. No test is perfect, but the speed and convenience of LFD tests supports detection of the virus in asymptomatic individuals who would not otherwise be tested. They are clinically approved and are crucial in the fight against the virus. As the tests are more sensitive with higher viral loads, there is a risk of returning a negative result when viral loads are low (e.g. in the early stages of infection). This is why Public Health England recommend two LFD tests 3 to 4 days apart, or regular testing, to enhance detection by picking up any cases which were not detected during the first test and to catch any new infections.

If you test positive using a LFD, it is likely that you are infectious at that moment in time, whereas people testing positive on a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) or lab-processed test could be in the less infectious early or late stages of disease. This means that by using the lateral flow test, the test can identify people with a high viral load who are the most likely to spread the virus further. A negative LFD result should not be read as a means to relax or ignore social distancing or other virus prevention measures intended to reduce transmission – LFD is an additional tool that contributes to reducing risk.

As I am sure you are aware, from the 25 January 2021 most school staff have been undertaking lateral flow tests, twice a week at home, normally on a Sunday and Wednesday evening. Many Staff Room teachers and support staff currently working on long-term assignments have already been participating in testing programmes managed by their assignment school.  We would like to take this opportunity to thank all those that have participated and appreciate their co-operation with the tests.  

How the tests work
The LFDs do not require laboratory processing and can provide a quick result in around 30 minutes. Comprehensive guidance on self-testing is contained in the ‘Instructions for Use’ leaflet which comes with the test kit. There is also a useful video to show you how to administer the test. https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLvaBZskxS7tzQYlVg7lwH5uxAD9UrSzGJ

Once the test has been conducted you will log the test result online.  To report your result you need the barcode on the test strip (or the ID number under it). You can report your result either online at www.gov.uk/report-covid19-result or call 119. You need to also, separately, inform The Staff Room or school of the test result. You will also receive a Text/email notification of a positive or negative result from NHS Test & Trace.

Testing for Staff Room colleagues
If you are about to start a short to long-term role, the school will ask you if you would like to participate in the their LFT programme and provide you with the necessary paperwork and test kits, as required.  You will be asked to conduct the test, before coming into work, twice a week. Staff who decline to participate can still attend school if not symptomatic. The test in completely voluntary and staff are not obligated to take a test if they do not wish to do so.

For staff that are looking to work on day to day assignments, we would advise that you obtain test kits and test yourself twice weekly but once again this is not compulsory.  Test kits are available from local test centres and we have been told they can provide up to 28 tests at any one time. You can also order free of charge, 7 test kits to be delivered to your door https://www.gov.uk/order-coronavirus-rapid-lateral-flow-tests. We are currently looking into obtaining test kits which will be available for collection from our office in Northampton.  We will up-date you as soon as we have more news on this.

People who decline to participate in a testing programme should follow the usual national guidelines on self-isolation and anyone should get tested if they show symptoms.


Update 03 Jan 2021 

Happy New Year to you all and welcome back to a very strange first term of 2021!

We would like to reassure you that we are following government guidelines regarding Covid-19 as they arise.  This remains a constantly evolving situation, and as always we will update you with any changes as soon as possible.  Likewise, we would be grateful if you could keep in regular touch with us and let us know if you hear of any changes in the schools you are working in.

Please remember you must follow school risk assessments and procedures whilst on placement and please remember to check your booking confirmations for any possible additional Covid information.

Finally, please remember you must inform us of any changes in your circumstances and if you have ANY symptoms DO NOT attend school and contact us as soon as possible. 

Thank you and we’ll be in touch with any further updates as soon as we have them.


Update 18 Dec 2020 - Christmas Covid reporting

If we receive notification that you have been in close contact with a positive case during an assignment we are required to inform you as soon as possible.  You will then be required to self-isolate as per government advice.  The time frame involved with identifying a close contact is as follows: contact within 48 hours of the positive case showing their first symptoms.  For example, if we receive a call from a school confirming a child has been identified as a positive Covid case and their symptoms first started on Sat 19 Dec at 9am then a positive contact would be someone that has had close contact with that child 48 hours before, so anytime between 9am Thursday 17 Dec to 9am Sat 19 Dec.  

To Report a positive Covid case over Christmas

You only need to inform us if you have received a positive test result and your symptoms have started within 48 hours of your last assignment.  This would mean that if you finished your last assignment at 4pm on Friday 18 Dec, symptoms would need to have started before Sunday 20th Dec at 4pm.  This is because the infectious stage is 48 hours prior to symptoms developing.


Important - Please read the below guidance

(this will be updated accordingly, in line with the latest government guidance)


The main symptoms of coronavirus are:

  • a high temperature – this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature)
  • a new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual)
  • a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste – this means you have noticed you cannot smell or taste anything, or things smell or taste different to normal

Most people with Coronavirus have at least 1 of these symptoms.

What to do if you have symptoms
If you have any of the main symptoms of coronavirus:

  • Stay at home (self-isolate for 10 days) – do not leave your home or have visitors. Anyone you live with, and anyone in your support bubble, must also self-isolate
  • Get a test – get a test to check if you have coronavirus as soon as possible if you have any of the common COVID-19 symptoms 

Minimising the spread of Coronavirus in school

Pupils, staff and other adults should not come into the school if they have coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms, or if anyone in their household has COVID-19 symptoms or have tested positive in the previous 10 days. Anyone developing these symptoms during the school day will be sent home. These are essential actions to reduce the risk in schools and further drive down transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19). 

If anyone in the school becomes unwell with a new, continuous cough or a high temperature, or has a loss of, or change in, their normal sense of taste or smell (anosmia), they will be sent home and advised to follow ‘stay at home: guidance for households with possible or confirmed coronavirus (COVID-19) infection’, which sets out that they must self-isolate for at least 10 days and should arrange to have a test to see if they have coronavirus (COVID-19). Other members of their household (including any siblings) should self-isolate for 10 days from when the symptomatic person first had symptoms.

As an agency worker you must ensure you understand the NHS Test and Trace process:

  • book a test if you are displaying symptoms. You must not come into the school if you have symptoms and will be sent home to self-isolate if you develop them in the workplace.
  • You must not come into work if anyone in your household has symptoms.  They must book a test and you and your household must self-isolate for a minimum of 10 days from the start of the person's symptoms or receipt of a negative test result for that person 
  • you must provide details of anyone you have been in close contact with if you test positive for coronavirus (COVID-19) to the NHS Test and Trace team
  • self-isolate if you have been in close contact with someone who develops coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms or someone who tests positive for coronavirus (COVID-19)

Anyone who displays symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) can and should get a test. Tests can be booked online through the NHS testing and tracing for coronavirus website, or ordered by telephone via NHS 119 for those without access to the Internet. An essential worker, which includes anyone involved in education or childcare, has priority access to testing.

Please find below the latest information and links regarding Coronavirus, in particular:

Testing Guidance Issued by the NHS

An important part of ensuring the safety and wellbeing of pupils, parents and our communities is testing for coronavirus. We all have a duty to make sure that the right people have access to get tested at the right time. Every time a test is used inappropriately, a person with Covid-19 symptoms may miss out on getting tested.

Therefore, please follow these principles:

You should only book a test if you have any of the following coronavirus symptoms:
1. a high temperature: any new high temperature where you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure the temperature)
2. a new continuous cough: coughing a lot for more than an hour, or three or more coughing episodes in 24 hours
3. a loss of, or change in, sense of smell or taste: a noticeable loss of smell or taste or things smell and taste different to normal

You do not need a test if you have a runny nose, are sneezing or feeling unwell but do not have a temperature, cough or loss of, or change in, sense of smell or taste because these are not normally symptoms of coronavirus.

If you are unsure about whether to get a test, please check the official list of symptoms on the NHS website, which is reviewed regularly: www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/symptoms/

Only the person with symptoms should get a test. You do not need to get a test for anyone else in the household unless they also have any of the three symptoms listed above. All members of the household need to self-isolate whilst waiting for the test result.

If the person with symptoms’ test comes back positive, other members of their household should continue self-isolating for 10 days and only get a test if they develop coronavirus symptoms.

If a pupil in a class or bubble tests positive for coronavirus, anyone who is advised to self-isolate does not require a test unless they subsequently develop symptoms.

No one else in the same class or bubble as the symptomatic person needs to take any action unless advised by the school. Schools have detailed guidance and access to a Department for Education and Public Health England helpline for advice and support.

Contacts of a person who has tested positive must follow the guidance carefully and in full, which means they must stay at home for 10 days. This is because it can take several days following contact with an infected person before an individual develops symptoms or the virus can be detected. Students should only book a test if they get symptoms.


Hygiene is still extremely important - the current guidance is to:

  • cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze
  • put used tissues in the bin immediately and wash your hands afterwards
  • wash your hands with soap and water often – do this for at least 20 seconds
  • always wash your hands when you get home or into work
  • don't touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean
  • use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available

If you are currently working and are unable to work, please call The Staff Room office on 01604 521055 as soon as possible to report your absence and explain the reasons why you are unable to work. 

If you are currently working or booked in to work and we become aware of an outbreak at the school we will notify you as soon as possible.

Please ensure you adhere to the specific hygiene protocol's implemented by individual school sites.

For further information and when to seek medical assistance please click here: NHS UK

We will be updating our advice as the situation develops, so please regularly check this page for new information.

Many thanks

The Staff Room Team

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