Targeted Covid-19 testing underway in Calderdale schools

Calderdale Council have announced that targeted community COVID-19 testing gets underway in Calderdale this week, with a number of schools set to receive rapid tests. Calderdale is in the highest level of restrictions to control the virus – Tier 3: Very High Alert. The borough’s infection rate is decreasing but is still too high.

Calderdale Council is introducing targeted community testing with lateral flow tests as one of the many measures being used to control COVID-19. Targeted testing works alongside the local test and trace system and support for people who need to self-isolate.

The tests are arriving at five schools and Calderdale College this week as part of a local pilot. Ryburn Valley High School, The North Halifax Grammar School, The Halifax Academy, Holy Trinity Primary School, Tuel Lane Infant School and Calderdale College will receive a month’s worth of lateral flow tests.

School and college staff, who are key frontline workers, will be tested at least once a week. Over 2000 tests are due to be taken in one week alone. The Council is also looking into possibly extending the testing to some older students. It plans to offer targeted testing to all schools in Calderdale by the end of the current school term. The supplies being delivered this week will cover the period up until the Christmas holidays and the return to school in January.

The Council’s School Nursing Team is training school staff to be able to administer the tests themselves.

Cllr Tim Swift, Calderdale Council’s Leader and Cabinet Member for Public Health, said:

“We must all continue to do the three big things to reduce the spread of COVID-19 – limit our contact with others, wear a face covering and isolate when needed. However, we know that certain settings, like schools, have a higher risk of people coming into contact with COVID-19 as it’s harder to stay two metres away from others. We are doing all we can to protect and support people most at risk, and that includes targeted testing in riskier settings. We’re starting with schools and will also be focusing on certain workplaces and public-facing services such as retail and hospitality.”

Deborah Harkins, the Council’s Director of Public Health, said:

“Lateral flow tests can be a useful way of identifying people with COVID-19 who don’t have symptoms, so we can support them to isolate to prevent them spreading the virus without realising. The tests provide a rapid result. They are not as reliable as the laboratory analysed test, so must be used carefully and not instead of the more accurate main testing programme. Anyone with COVID-19 symptoms should book a laboratory analysed test in the usual way.”