Our general guidance (updated 14 January 2022) to parents to help us keep Covid-19 out of school is as follows:
1. What if my child develops symptoms?
The symptoms to look out for are recent onset of:
- a new continuous cough
- a high temperature
- a loss of, or change in, a normal sense of taste or smell
If your child displays any of these symptoms, keep your child off school and book a PCR test.
Please note that Lateral Flow Device tests are not suitable for anyone showing symptoms. If you consider that your child has any symptoms of Covid-19, do not rely on the results of a LFD test but book a PCR test instead.
2. Can I bring my child to school while waiting for a PCR test result?
If your child is waiting for a PCR test result, it is ok to bring your child to school providing they test negative on a LFD test each morning and have no symptoms.
3. What do I do if my child is identified as a close contact?
Children age 5 and above, identified as a close contact of someone with COVID-19, should take an LFD test every day for at least five days (see section 5) and continue to attend school as normal, unless they have a positive test result or develop symptoms at any time.
Children under 5 are not being advised to take part in daily testing of close contacts. If a child under 5 is a contact of a confirmed case, they are not required to self-isolate and should not start daily testing. If they live in the same household as someone with COVID-19 they should limit their contact with anyone who is at higher risk of severe illness if infected with COVID-19, and arrange to take a PCR test as soon as possible. They can continue to attend school while waiting for the PCR result.
4. What if my child tests positive on a LFD or PCR test?
They should remain at home and isolate.
Confirmatory PCR tests following a positive lateral flow device (LFD) test result are temporarily suspended. This mean that anyone who receives a positive LFD test result is required to self-isolate immediately and is not required to take a confirmatory PCR test.
5. How long should I keep my child at home?
Anyone who is self-isolating with COVID-19 will have the option to reduce their isolation period after 5 full days if they test negative with an LFD test on both day 5 and day 6 and they do not have a temperature. For example, if they test negative on the morning of day 5 and the morning of day 6, they can return to school immediately on day 6.
The first test must be taken no earlier than day 5 of the self-isolation period, and the second must be taken the following day. All test results should be reported to NHS Test and Trace.
If the result of either of their tests is positive, they should continue to self-isolate until they get negative results from two LFD tests on consecutive days or until they have completed 10 full days of self-isolation, whichever is earliest.
Anyone who is unable to take LFD tests or anyone who continues to have a temperature will need to complete the full 10 day period of self-isolation.
Please see the government guidance for further information: Stay at home: guidance for households with possible or confirmed COVID-19 infection.
6. How often should parents carry out tests if no symptoms are evident or the child is not a close contact?
Public Health Dorset recommend that all parents should test themselves twice weekly using free lateral flow tests in order to prevent children being sent to school from an asymptomatic infected household.
There are no guidelines for the frequency children should be tested if there is no suspicion of a possible infection. In this situation, testing is at parents’ discretion.
Note: The testing window after a positive test
Even if someone has tested positive for COVID-19 within the last 90 days, they are strongly encouraged to take part in LFD testing at home as described above, once they have completed their isolation period for their prior infection.