Serial / daily testing of close contacts
Waltham Forest have previously offered local advice to our schools and settings to not proceed with implementing the serial / daily testing of close contacts of confirmed cases of COVID19 as an alternative to self-isolation. Following new advice from NHS Test and Trace and Public Health England (PHE), the government has confirmed that they are temporarily pausing the daily contact testing element of the testing programme, which was in place as an alternative to self-isolation for those who came into contact with positive cases in schools. There is more information available here.
Close contacts of confirmed cases of COVID-19 must continue to self-isolate for 10 days from the point of last contact. Individuals may choose to take a COVID test during this time but this does not change the requirement to self-isolate for 10 days. If anyone develops symptoms during the 10 day self-isolation period they should arrange for a PCR test immediately and the rest of their household must also isolate.
Retesting within 90 days if asymptomatic
If an individual has previously tested positive for coronavirus with a PCR test within the last 90 days then Lateral Flow Device testing is not needed within the following 90 days, in the absence of new COVID-19 symptoms. However, if they develop COVID19 symptoms, then they should still self-isolate and access a PCR COVID-19 test.
We aware that the Department for Education (DfE) has advised that LFD tests can be taken within 90 days, however, our local position is that these should be avoided within 90 days of a previous positive PCR. We are expecting further national guidance to be published imminently.
Community testing in Waltham Forest
The borough has been increasing the testing capacity in Waltham Forest to make it easier for people to get tested. Details of where the different sites are and their opening times etc can be found here.
There are two types of testing available:
1. Lateral Flow Device (LFD) testing sites– for people WITHOUT symptoms
Lateral Flow testing allows people who have no symptoms to know if they may be infected. It's a rapid test, and you can get a result on the same day (usually about 30 minutes).
2. Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) testing sites – for people WITH symptoms
Anyone who has symptoms of coronavirus should go to a PCR testing site or book a home test kit. Many people get their result the next day, but it may take up to 3 days.
With 1 in 3 people with coronavirus not experiencing symptoms, getting tested is vital for those who are travelling regularly. For staff or children at your school / setting, who do not have access to on site or home testing (see more information below), please make them aware of the testing options locally within the borough. Please find more information on the Waltham Forest community testing offer here Testing centres | Waltham Forest Council
Access to community testing
We recommend that settings make their childcare staff aware of the testing offer locally in Waltham Forest and encourage them to get tested regularly, up to twice a week.
You may also wish to make your families aware of the testing offer locally so that they can also access coronavirus testing. Please note, settings should not make it a requirement for either staff or families to access asymptomatic testing, but should make them aware of what is available locally.
If a child or staff member attending your setting tests positive for COVID19 with a LFD test, then they should self-isolate and close contacts should be identified and advised to self-isolate for 10 days from the point of last contact on the basis of the LFD result. Please note that confirmatory PCR tests are no longer required for LFD tests carried out at community testing sites.
PCR home testing kits
The local authority will shortly be supplying all childcare staff in Waltham Forest with a one-off PCR home test kit. All staff should be encouraged to use this one off test kit whether or not they have symptoms of coronavirus. More details on the arrangements for the distribution and collection of the test kits will be made available shortly.
Lateral flow testing for staff
Waltham Forest wants to support our early years sector with improved access to rapid lateral flow testing. We will be inviting childcare settings, who meet the required criteria, to be part of a pilot programme to pilot the use of the lateral flow testing for staff in childcare settings. More information to be made available shortly.
In the meantime, we encourage all staff working in childcare to access the community lateral flow testing sites.
Regular staff testing
Primary schools will be aware that a programme of asymptomatic testing using lateral flow devices for use at home for primary school staff is being introduced by the government. Staff will be asked to take the test kits home and carry out testing twice a week. It is recommended that the test is done prior to travelling to school in the morning.
If a staff member receives a positive LFD result from undertaking a home LFD test, then they should arrange to have a confirmatory PCR test as soon as possible. In the interim, the case as well as close contacts in the household and in the school should be identified and advised to self-isolate, pending the confirmatory result.
Regular staff testing
Secondary schools and colleges have worked incredibly hard to set up mass testing in schools to support regular testing of staff, initially testing staff once a week. The local authority strongly encourages that staff are tested regularly as we know that 1 in 3 people do not show symptoms of the virus and this is a vital way of keeping our schools and colleges safe.
The government has announced that secondary schools and colleges increase regular testing of staff to twice weekly as further reassurance and to break chains of transmission during this period. The guidance for secondary schools and colleges will be updated shortly. This brings the frequency of testing in secondary schools staff in line with the recommended twice weekly testing of primary school staff.
If a pupil or staff member attending your secondary school / college tests positive for COVID-19 with a LFD test, then they should self-isolate and close contacts should be identified and advised to self-isolate for 10 days from the point of last contact on the basis of the LFD result. Please note that confirmatory PCR tests are no longer required for LFD tests carried out at community testing sites.
Testing of pupils
At the start of term the government guidance on testing of secondary school / college pupils was to test all those receiving face to face learning twice 3-5 days apart on their return to school / college. The government guidance has yet to be updated on the frequency of testing for secondary school and college pupils. Our local position is that we recommend that secondary schools and college start to make the preparations for more regular testing of secondary school / college students, and where capacity allows and you have sufficient test kits, you could consider introducing more regular testing now. We expect that there will be more national guidance on this imminently. In the interim, pupils can also continue to access community LFD sites in Waltham Forest.
In some cases adult students will be attending colleges. The government guidance states that these students can also be tested if attending college on site.