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Saliva tests in public schools to start next Monday

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Diallo Rabain, the Minister of Education (File photograph)

A total of 1,834 parents have given permission for their children to take part in a schools saliva testing programme to help stop the spread of Covid-19, the education minister said.

Mr Rabain added the voluntary on-site programme would start in public schools next Monday.

He said: “Schools are responsible for ensuring the organisation of staff, students and the facility for testing.

“At the same time, MDL provides all of the equipment, resources, saliva kits, the schedule, and their staff to oversee the testing.

“Testing groups of students each week will provide the MDL with samples across classrooms, and it will help determine any Covid-19 risks in the school on an ongoing basis.”

Mr Rabain added: “Repeated testing increases the chances of detecting the virus at a moment when new infections are occurring or have just occurred.”

Mr Rabain was speaking yesterday as he gave an update on the programme to the House of Assembly.

The schools test scheme is run by the Department of Education with the Government’s Molecular Diagnostic Laboratory.

Mr Rabain revealed on Wednesday that only 31 per cent of parents of public schoolchildren had given consent.

He added the deadline for parents to give permission for their children to take the tests had been extended by four days to Wednesday night.

The ministry said last night the online consent process had been further extended and was still available.

The plan is to have 25 per cent of pupils at every school self-administer a coronavirus saliva test every week so each child would have one test a month.

Mr Rabain said that Carika Weldon, the director of MDL, had advised that the saliva tests were as accurate as the nose and throat type.

He added that MDL would be able to supply results inside 24 hours.

Mr Rabain said: “The results of the saliva tests are sent to parents or guardians, not to the school principal or the Department of Education.

“If a positive test is detected, then the result is sent to the individual’s physician or GP and must be followed up with a nasal pharyngeal test.”

School staff who agree to be tested will be scheduled depending on how much contact they have with others at the school.

A series of Town Hall meetings were held earlier this month for education department and school staff, parents and guardians.

Dr Weldon and Tarik Bean-Darrell, MDL’s school saliva testing coordinator, attended to provide information and answer questions about the programme.

Videos of the sessions were posted on the Department of Education’s YouTube Channel.

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Published May 22, 2021 at 8:04 am (Updated May 22, 2021 at 8:04 am)

Saliva tests in public schools to start next Monday

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