Coronavirus updates for Essex on Gateway 97.8

‘We must keep Covid testing to minimise disruption to children’s education’

8th October 2021
Posted by Johnny Jenkins

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Essex’s Director for Public Health is calling on school pupils and their families to continue Covid-19 testing throughout the autumn term to help Keep Covid in Check.

Essex families are being urged to help minimise the disruption to their children’s education by testing for Covid-19 on a regular basis. Schools may recommend additional tests when there are specific outbreaks.

With the autumn term now in full swing, Essex County Council’s Director for Public Health, Dr Mike Gogarty, is reminding parents of the need for schoolchildren to get tested for Covid-19 regularly.

Although case numbers in Essex are lower than the England average, Covid-19 infections among schoolchildren in the county are increasing.

The County Council is advising all primary schools in Essex to encourage children to get a PCR test if another child in their class tests positive for Covid-19. Pupils should get a PCR test even if they do not have symptoms.

Secondary school pupils are still being encouraged to take Lateral Flow Tests (LFT) twice a week. This will help identify any outbreaks amongst pupils and help keep case numbers as low as possible.

Continued testing within school communities will help manage and monitor any potential outbreaks and therefore minimise any disruption to schoolchildren’s education.

Dr Gogarty said: “Since children returned to their classrooms in September, we’ve inevitably seen a rise in the number of Covid-19 cases amongst young people. This rise is being seen across the country and while rates are relatively low, we cannot ignore this increase. Therefore, it is essential everyone continues to be cautious and takes sensible steps, such as testing regularly.

“Testing is free, quick, easy, and is a key line of defence against the spread of Covid-19. This is why we’re working with schools to encourage the continuation of a robust testing regime amongst both primary and secondary school pupils. 

“The more we can minimise the number of Covid-19 cases in schools the less disruption there is to young people’s education and the greater effect on limiting the virus’ spread amongst the wider community.”

Testing for primary school pupils

ECC is advising all primary schools in Essex to encourage children to get a PCR test if another child in their class tests positive for Covid-19. Pupils should get a PCR test even if they do not have symptoms.

PCR tests can be taken in person if the student does not have symptoms or booked online at www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test.

To book a test online, follow these simple steps:

  • When asked ‘Is the person who needs a test an essential worker?’, select ‘No’
  • When asked ‘Does the person who needs a test currently have any coronavirus symptoms?’, select ‘Yes’ or ‘No’
  • When asked ‘Has the person been asked to get a follow-up test?’, select ‘No’
  • When asked ‘Is the person who needs a test part of a trial or government pilot project?’, select ‘None of the above’
  • When asked ‘Why are you asking for the test?’, select ‘I’ve been in contact with someone who’s tested positive for coronavirus’ then choose:
    • ‘I found out in another way’ if you have been informed by the school 
    • ‘Contact tracers told me to get a test’ if you have been contacted by NHS Test and Trace 

Then fill out your personal details on the rest of the form.  

Whilst waiting for the results of a PCR test, pupils can continue to attend school.

They only need to self-isolate if the test is positive, or if they develop any of the main Covid-19 symptoms. These symptoms are a new continuous cough, a high temperature or loss of smell or taste.

Testing for secondary school pupils

Secondary school pupils are still being encouraged to take Lateral Flow Tests (LFT) twice a week. This will help identify any outbreaks amongst pupils and help keep case numbers as low as possible.

LFT tests are for those who do not have symptoms of Covid-19 and can be collected from libraries and pharmacies across the county.

More details about LFT tests and where to get them is available at www.essex.gov.uk/getting-tested-for-covid-19/if-you-dont-have-symptoms.

You now need a collection code to pick up LFT tests. Residents can get a code by visiting www.test-for-coronavirus.service.gov.uk/collect-lateral-flow-kits or by calling 119.

If the LFT result is positive parents are asked to seek a confirmatory PCR test. The student should self-isolate while they wait for their PCR test and for the result.

More information and advice on Covid-19 and testing is available at the Essex County Council website here: http://www.essex.gov.uk/topic/coronavirus.

Residents can find out more about the Government’s latest Covid guidelines as well as how to stay safe and prevent the spread of the virus.   

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