Changes to guidelines in Wales for school children living in same household as someone with Covid
Secondary school children living with someone who has contracted Covid will be asked to take a lateral flow test every day before they go to school for a week.
In an update today, Education minister Jeremy Miles issued new advice for children under the age of 18.
He also announced that children under the age of 5 will no longer be tested for Covid.
Mr Miles said he “recognised that some schools and parents have been confused and concerned that pupils can attend school or college if they are a household contact as long as they are asymptomatic.”
“I have listened to these concerns and considered what additional assurance can be provided while also enabling learners to continue to attend school.” he said.
“I am amending our advice and guidance to learners in secondary schools and colleges who are under 18 and have a household member who has tested positive for COVID-19.”
“This should start on the day a household contact is confirmed positive from a lateral flow or PCR test result.”
“Where appropriate we want to reduce the testing of children without symptoms but due to the increase in prevalence and the concerns expressed about household contacts it is vital that we do all we can to keep children in school.”
“The changes will formally come into effect from Monday 11 October.”
“Any learners in secondary school or college who are under 18 and confirmed as a household contact should start using lateral flow tests for 7 days immediately to help provide further reassurance that they are not infectious to others.”
Testing children under 5 years of age to stop
The Education Minister said that “in considering the merits of testing, asymptomatic testing in particular, it is important to consider the potential harms.”
And said he’s been concerned “at the level of PCR testing being undertaken of children under 5 years of age which has increased fivefold since the beginning of August.”
Testing can be distressing for the child, it can be difficult to obtain an appropriate sample and of course children of this age are much less likely to pass on the virus to others.
“Following advice from our testing advisory group I have agreed that we will no longer recommend that children under 5 years of age take COViD-19 tests without symptoms.”
“Where children under 5 do have symptoms we would not routinely recommend tests unless directed to do so by a doctor or if parents believe a test is absolutely necessary and in the best interests of the child.” He said.
Mr Miles added: “Testing alone cannot eradicate the risks associated with contracting and transmitting Covid-19.”
“Testing helps to identify and isolate positive cases to mitigate the risk of passing the virus on to others but other more effective behaviours such as washing your hands regularly and wearing a mask when appropriate remain critical.” He said.
Laura Doel, Director of school leaders union, NAHT Cymru Director said: “Bringing in additional LFT testing for secondaries school household contacts and removing the need to test under 5s will bring little comfort to school leaders in those settings.”
“For our primary schools that continue to suffer from the impact of covid, there was no comfort at all.”
“The removal of under 5s testing, which in itself is a mitigation measure against the spread of the virus sends completely the wrong message to parents.”
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