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Parents raise concern as pupils from Park House in Newbury receive false positive coronavirus tests

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Children kept home despite later negative result

AFTER just one morning in the classroom a number of pupils at a Newbury school were sent home to isolate after a positive rapid lateral flow test (LFT).

But the parents of those children have voiced their frustrations at the system after the pupil went on to test negative after a PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test.

Carol Mitchell’s daughter Loren Willis – a Year 11 pupil at Park House School – had a negative LFT in school last week and returned as expected on Monday.

But during the morning she was given a second test, which came back positive, forcing her, her family and a group of close contacts into isolation for 10 days.

Mrs Mitchell said she immediately booked the PCR test at Newbury Showground, assuming that if it came back negative then everyone would be able to return to school, but was shocked to find out this wasn’t the case.

“She does not pose a threat to society, nor the 10 people connected to her,” she said. “We have a PCR test result that confirms she is negative and is not an asymptomatic case.

“The Department for Education insists that false positives are rare, and yet here we are, one of those ‘rare’ cases that are feeling the real-world impact of this and have been told there is simply no recourse for us to challenge this.

“So now the children are perfectly healthy and are sitting at home. They have been through so much disruption.

“In class the teachers were focussing on how they would be doing the assessments [for Year 11 GCSE results this summer] and what the children should focus on and they are all missing out on this now.”

Although she stressed she didn’t blame Park House at all, she said she believes the Government has handled the situation badly – as it was seen as inevitable that false positive results would happen with the LFTs.

Park House School headteacher Tom Goodenough said he understood the frustrations of the parents, but the school was following all the correct procedures.

He added that the Department for Education clarified the situation to the school on Tuesday, stating that because it is an official testing site, any positive test result received there immediately triggers the legal duty to isolate and track close contacts and confirmatory PCR tests are not required.

Once children begin testing at home, confirmatory PCR test results – after a positive LFT – will be taken into consideration.

The school has so far tested nearly 1,700 people.

Hermione Sheldon, whose daughter is one of those now isolating, said she was frustrated that the pupils were missing out on the vital assessments for their GCSEs.

“It just doesn’t make any sense,” she said. “I have no problem with them being tested but if you get a negative test afterwards surely that result should be taken into account.

“My daughter is supposed to be doing assessments this week. It is really hard for those who have to isolate again now. They were so excited to get back to school.

“It is unfair and just isn’t logical.”

Mrs Mitchell and Mrs Sheldon have both written to their MP, Kit Malthouse, to voice their concerns at the policy.

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