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Pilot Testing Centre – COVID-19

Cirencester Deer Park School to take part in an important local COVID-19 testing pilot

Gloucestershire County Council’s Public Health Team has invited Cirencester Deer Park School to take part in an important local COVID-19 testing pilot alongside Cirencester College and The Royal Agricultural University.

The purpose of the pilot is to support the rollout of mass testing, as announced by the Prime Minister last week and to see if the procedures in place locally are scalable. Additionally, the new type of test might help us identify cases of COVID-19 earlier in education settings through regular testing.

The aim of the programme is to test at least some of our pupils and staff for COVID-19 in the run up to Christmas and potentially more in the New Year.

Participation in the testing is entirely voluntary, but we encourage our pupils to take part.

The benefits of this are:

  • You will know if your child is COVID free before Christmas which will enable you to feel more confident if you plan to see extended family;
  • The test will help identify pupils who have the virus, but before symptoms appear and they become more infectious;
  • The test will identify asymptomatic individuals who are at high likelihood of spreading the virus, whilst simultaneously minimising disruption for those who test negative;
  • It may also reduce the need to ask other pupils and staff to self-isolate if a sufficient number of pupils take part in the test pilot. This would ensure more pupils can continue to learn in school.

The test centre will be at The Royal Agricultural University, Stroud Road entrance. It will be open from 8am to 7pm Monday to Friday, with shorter hours at the weekend, starting on Thursday 3 December 2020.

We understand that priority will be given to staff and pupils at Deer Park before and after school from 8am-9am and 3.30pm-4.30pm. If you would like your child to be tested, you will need to book a time in advance and accompany him/her to the test centre. Parents have been sent the booking link. 

Everyone taking part in the pilot will be required to have two tests a week, three days apart, for example, on Mondays and Thursdays, or Tuesdays and Fridays. Those tested, or the parents of children being tested will personally receive notification of their results around an hour after taking the test. Those who test positive will be asked to self-isolate immediately. They will also be asked to book a confirmatory PCR test through the Government Portal.

We are very keen to support this initiative. Therefore, to assist in the pilot, we plan to take pupils initially from one year group, for whom we have consent, across to the test centre during the school day from Monday 7 December 2020. We have already contacted parents of pupils in Year 10 about this separately. Gloucestershire County Council have ensured there is a safe route from the school to the test centre by providing a temporary pedestrian crossing. As you will appreciate we are keen to minimise our pupils’ time out of lessons, but believe a lost hour of learning time may prevent significantly more hours being lost in the future for both those who have been tested and those with whom they come into close contact.

The test used is Lateral Flow Device (LFD) and those aged 12 and over are able to self-swab by applying a swab to the throat and nose. Lateral Flow Devices are not as accurate as the more common PCR tests. Estimates in the lab suggest that around 75% of people who are positive with COVID-19 will be picked up by using this type of test. If they are really infectious, this rises to 90%.  Further information about LFD tests can be found here.

A negative test may not always be accurate, and so regular testing means that if you are asymptomatic with the virus and you test negative on Monday, you might then be picked up on Thursday. 

The idea of regular testing is to catch people before their symptoms appear (which is when they become more infectious). This is the best way to help prevent spread and understand how many cases we have in a population. The PCR test could be used for this but by the time people receive their results they may have already developed symptoms. 

We hope this pilot will be of interest to you and politely ask that should your child participate in the pilot and test positive, you will alert us at the earliest opportunity.

Chiquita Henson