Sat, 27 Jun 2020
THATCHAM Park Primary School has been selected to be part of a Government study assessing coronavirus in pupils and teachers.
The voluntary Public Health England (PHE) Covid-19 study will assess and monitor the prevalence of coronavirus among pre-school, primary and secondary school pupils and teachers.
Thatcham Park is one of around 100 schools from across 25,000 in England to be selected.
The school was chosen for several reasons, including its geographical location and that its safeguarding practices had been judged as outstanding.
Headteacher Alison Webster said: “It’s a privilege to be invited to be part of this study.
“Not only is it reassuring to know whether the virus is present or not and hence respond accordingly, but also these studies provide much-needed data to help inform the future further wider opening of schools in a safe manner.”
Participation by staff and pupils is voluntary and requires consent.
The weekly nasal swab test is administered by two school first aiders, who the children already know.
Parents are not in attendance when the test is administered.
The first tests were carried out on Tuesday, June 16, and will be conducted until July 14.
Mrs Webster said that 139 tests had been carried out in the first week, including 48 staff, which took three-and-a-half hours to complete.
Practice nurse Caroline Dyer, from Thatcham Medical Practice, validated and supported the initial process.
Mrs Webster said that some children who were unsure or hesitant of the test, around 10, were now keen to take part this week.
The tests are collected by courier and parents, school, GP and PHE will be informed of any positive tests within approximately 24 hours.
There were no positive results from Thatcham Park in the first week of the survey.
The Government said that children had generally been shown to be asymptomatic.
It added that the surveillance study would seek to better understand rates of transmission in children and adults within schools over the coming months by swab testing to see if they have the virus.
A small proportion of schools will also be offered antibody tests by phlebotomists.
Roughly 40 per cent of schools selected for the study will receive antibody and swab tests before the summer holidays.
Public Health England paediatric infectious diseases consultant Dr Shamez Ladhani said: “We are delighted this study is up and running in schools across England.
“By working with students and staff we’ll be able to better understand infection and transmission of asymptomatic and mild infections of Covid-19 that may have otherwise remained undetected.
“The results of this study will play an important role in informing wider surveillance planned for educational settings in the autumn term.
“Through active surveillance, contact tracing and the close monitoring of any clusters of cases, we are committed to ensuring the safety of students and staff returning to school over the coming weeks and months.”