Karen Hayler is Business Manager at Worthing High School, a maintained secondary with a mix of boys and girls aged 11 to 16 in the coastal town of Worthing, West Sussex. Karen shares how her school has encouraged participation in Covid-19 testing amongst students and staff over the past year and why it’s important for students to continue to test over the summer holidays.
Keeping students and parents engaged with testing
The testing programme is only effective if students and their families are engaged and actively participating. To encourage this, we focus on three main areas:
- Building testing into their routine
- Monitoring who is and who isn’t reporting their results
- Reminders, reminders, reminders
We encourage staff and students to test at home every Wednesday and Sunday and report their results by 8pm on each day. To help us monitor test results, we have invested in an online portal which allows parents and students to easily log their results. The portal also provides a direct link to the NHS Test and Trace reporting system. We send reminders at 6am twice a week on testing days via email and social media and follow up with a reminder email to any who have not logged results by 8.30pm.
On a Thursday and Monday morning, tutors are given a list of students who have not yet tested and asked to speak to them confidentially – as a reminder of how important testing is to control the spread of the virus.
We issue replacement test kits to students in year group assemblies – each test box kit is labelled with the student’s name and tutor group to ensure kits are not mislaid and are being taken home.
Timely reporting and regular communication are key
Having access to timely data on who has and has not tested has been vital in our drive to continue to promote the importance of testing across the school. Thanks to the timely reporting by parents, we have been able to respond to positive cases promptly and effectively.
Parents have not just let us know positive results, they have reported each and every test their child does. They know how much we value the investment they are making to keeping our school community safe.
Throughout our experiences of testing so far, we have found communication to be key. Our advice to other schools would just be to communicate constantly to parents, staff and students – reminding them of the importance of testing and thanking them for the efforts they are making to enable us to continue to fight the spread of COVID-19.
Keep up testing and reporting over the summer holidays
We have encouraged students and staff, who are not attending school during the summer, to continue testing twice a week over the break.
Testing commences again just before we return, starting with our incoming Year 7s. All parents and carers have already been emailed our testing programme arrangements for the start of autumn term and students and tutors have also received the information. We will continue to communicate over the summer – reminding parents, carers and students of their on-site testing days to encourage maximum participation at the start of term.
If you’d like to hear more about how we’ve delivered testing and kept pupils engaged, we’d be happy to speak to you – please get in touch with us by emailing email@example.com
Get help with improving testing participation
There is a range of guidance, resources and support available to help schools and colleges deliver testing and encourage participation, including:
- Materials to help encourage participation and reporting, with additional downloadable products for areas where variants of concern have been identified, from Public Health England.
- Schools and colleges coronavirus operational guidance – this can be found on the Department for Education’s document sharing platform for schools and colleges.
- Contact Tracing resources including FAQs and letter templates for parents (from Monday 19 July, schools, colleges and nurseries will no longer carry out routine contact tracing. From this point onwards, close contacts will be identified and contacted by NHS Test and Trace) – this can be found on the Department for Education’s document sharing platform for schools and colleges.
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