COVID-19 Testing

Isolating after a positive Covid-19 test


The Department of Education and other national organisations have been raising with the government that some parents are frustrated that their children have been sent home from school as a result of receiving a positive Covid-19 test or being a close contact of someone who has tested positive, particularly if they have then obtained a PCR test for their child and they have tested negative on that.


The Department of Education has shared the following message with schools:


“As schools return to full attendance, we understand parents’ frustration when their child is asked to isolate at home either after testing positive for coronavirus (COVID-19), or because of being in close contact of someone who has tested positive.


However self-isolation is one of the most important things we can do to help stop the spread of the virus and help protect our friends, family and our community. Around one in three people with coronavirus (COVID-19) have no symptoms, and so finding and isolating these hidden cases quickly will help to stop outbreaks before they get a chance to develop.


If your child has tested positive having been tested using a lateral flow device (LFD) test at school, they do not need a PCR confirmation because these tests are done in a supervised environment. Lateral flow device tests are at least 99.9% specific, meaning the likelihood of a false positive is extremely low – less than 1 in every 1,000. PCR testing will always carry a risk of producing false negatives. At the moment, carrying out LFD tests in supervised conditions and not carrying out confirmatory PCR testing means we capture the maximum possible number of coronavirus (COVID-19) infections during the initial return to school period.


Once your child starts testing at home using lateral flow tests, positive results must be followed up with a confirmatory PCR test (as these tests are not conducted in a controlled environment).”


The DfE has also updated guidance on transport to school and other places of education to include additional information on identifying close contacts if someone who has tested positive for Covid-19 travelled on dedicated transport.