| 17 April 2024, Wednesday |

Daily contact testing in schools cuts absences, study finds

A UK study has found that daily rapid testing of school pupils who are close contacts of a Covid case is a safe alternative to home isolation and doesn’t lead to more virus spread.

Daily testing could decline school absences by up to 39 percent, the Oxford researchers said.

Covid rules in many UK schools will be different for the new school year. But the policy has created huge disruption to children’s education since September.

The government revealed that any requirement for children and adults to self-isolate as close contacts will be lifted in England from mid-August.

The Scottish government is reviewing its approach to self-isolation for school children, who return to lessons in August. In Wales, the education minister has said he wants to minimize the number of pupils self-isolating.

Since March, schools have offered twice weekly rapid tests to all pupils, with those testing positive having to self-isolate, along with close contacts, for 10 days. They replaced PCR tests, which were sent away to a lab for results, when students had symptoms.

But that’s meant growing numbers of pupils absent from school are around one million were off due to Covid in England last week.

But only 47,000 of those actually had Covid – the rest were defined as close contacts so had to self-isolate and stay off school, even though they were in the routine of taking tests to establish whether they had become infected.