The Department for Education (DfE) and Public Health England (PHE) have recently launched a trial in some secondary schools to evaluate the effectiveness of the use of daily contact testing as an alternative to self-isolation. Essentially, this involves the use of daily lateral flow testing to enable ‘close contacts’ who get ongoing negative covid test results to remain in school.
NAHT played an important role in challenging the use of daily lateral flow tests (LFTs) as an alternative to self-isolation at the start of the year. That resulted in PHE reversing its decision and pausing the use of LFTs in a similar way.
NAHT has already raised significant concerns with both the DfE and PHE about this new study. We believe there remain important questions to be answered about the ethics of such a trial, particularly in terms of the ability of all involved to give informed consent. We are also concerned about the potential liability schools could face by taking part in such a study.
We are currently seeking urgent answers to the questions we have from both DfE and PHE. Given the serious nature of these concerns, we do not recommend schools sign up to be involved in the study until we at least have clear answers to these questions. We suggest that NAHT members who might be considering doing so or who have already signed up contact NAHT’s advice team to discuss some of these issues further.
First published 28 April 2021