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Children Can Go Back To School With A Negative Lab Test For Covid After A Positive Result At Home, Number 10 Confirms

Children Can Go Back To School With A Negative Lab Test For Covid After A Positive Result At Home, Number 10 Confirms

Downing Street has sought to clarify how home testing for pupils will work now schools are re-open (Alamy)

2 min read

Downing Street has confirmed pupils can return to the classroom after a negative result from a lab test for Covid following a positive rapid one, amid confusion over the new schools testing regime.

It comes after education minister Vicky Ford appeared to suggest this was not the case as all children in England began their return to the classroom today.

As part of plans to prevent transmission of coronavirus as schools reopen, secondary pupils will be offered three tests this week.

Then they will be asked to take two tests at home per week from next week onwards, all of which are on the spot tests – known as a lateral flow test or LFD.

If the LFD shows a positive result for Covid-19 then the pupil should stay at home and self-isolate along with their close contacts.

This morning Ford said pupils must stay away from school even if they subsequently receive a negative result from the more reliable lab tests – referred to as PCRs.

"They should not take the risk, we all want to make sure we can keep Covid out of the classrooms here,” she told the BBC this morning

But the government has now confirmed that is not the entire picture, as they will differentiate between LFD tests administered at school, referred to as "a controlled environment”, and those performed at home, with the implication those done outside of school are less reliable.

Speaking this lunchtime, the Prime Minister’s official spokesperson explained how the three tests done in schools this week will be treated differently than the subsequent two tests per week at home. 

“If they are positive those lateral flow tests, obviously it's required for children to isolate,” they said.

“But for lateral flows taken at home if somebody receives a positive test they will then receive a PCR to back up and validate the lateral flow test result.

“If that PCR comes back positive, of course children will continue to isolate, but if that PCR comes back negative children will then be allowed to go back into school.”A school-administered test therefore cannot be overruled by a gold-standard PCR, but an LFD performed by a parent can be.

Asked why Ford had not made this clear on her morning media round the PM’s spokesperson said: “As I say, if a child takes a lateral flow at home, so not in a controlled environment, then if they receive a positive result they will then receive a lateral PCR test. 

“If the PCR is positive, the child needs to continue to isolate the home. If the PCR is negative, then the child can go back to school.”

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