DfE Notice (27.01.21)

Update on the secondary school and college testing programme – change to confirmatory PCR tests

The (national) secondary school and college testing programme is continuing to use lateral flow tests to identify cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) amongst staff and pupils who are asymptomatic.

Following new advice, NHS Test and Trace and Public Health England are temporarily pausing the need for a confirmatory PCR test following a positive result with a lateral flow test in secondary schools and colleges. 

Following a positive lateral flow test result, an individual will need to self-isolate in line with government guidance, and contact tracing will need to be undertaken. It will also be the trigger for self-isolation payments.

Confirmatory PCR testing was introduced to minimise the chance of false positive results with lateral flow tests. When coronavirus (COVID-19) prevalence rates are high, however, Public Health England has advised that the performance of lateral flow devices and PCR tests are broadly comparable for infectivity and expected to be indistinguishable when used at test sites, significantly reducing the need for routine confirmatory testing.