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.”
Cllr Adam Wilkinson, Cabinet Member for Children and Young People’s Services, added:
“Calderdale schools are doing a fantastic job supporting their pupils and staff and keeping them safe. Targeted testing is just one of the ways we’re continuing to support them, as we know how important it is to keep schools open for young people’s learning, development and wellbeing.”
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.”
Liz Whetham, Teaching Schools Council West Yorkshire Sub-region Lead and Headteacher of Holy Trinity Primary School, A Church of England Academy, said:
“Holy Trinity is pleased to be able support the trial of lateral flow testing in schools. It will give staff and parents some additional reassurance that asymptomatic cases of COVID-19 aren’t being transmitted around school and therefore keeping the children and staff of Holy Trinity even safer. Initially it may result in some bubble closures and move to remote learning but we are confident in our arrangements for this.”
For more information about Tier 3 restrictions, visit Local restriction tiers: what you need to know(external link).
What are we doing to prevent and control COVID-19 in Calderdale?
We will continue to live with COVID-19 for the foreseeable future. In line with Calderdale’s Outbreak Prevention and Control Plan, the Council, local partner organisations and communities are working together to protect people from the virus and to prevent and manage outbreaks. This includes:
- Engaging with and supporting communities, particularly in areas of high infection rates, and helping local businesses to be COVID-secure
- Increasing and improving access to testing for residents
- Carrying out local contact tracing to support the national Test and Trace service
- Providing support to people to enable them to self-isolate
- Enforcing COVID-19 restrictions.
For up-to-date and reliable information about COVID-19, use trusted sources such as: