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Saltus to offer coronavirus lateral flow tests to help keep school open

Saltus, which will offer the fast lateral flow tests to pupils (File photograph)

A private school has announced it will use lateral flow tests for the coronavirus for its pupils and staff.

Saltus is one of several private schools to offer the tests, which will be administered at home.

Deryn Lavell, the head of the school, said the decision was reached after talks with other heads of private schools on the best way to keep schools open during the pandemic.

She added: “While the lateral flow rapid tests do not replace the PCR tests, they will provide a twice weekly test that can easily be administered at home.

“In addition to our SafeKey policy for staff and visitors, this will add another protective layer to our current procedures as outlined by the Government.”

Pupils and staff will be given 18 rapid flow tests, which will be carried out on Sunday and Wednesday evenings every week until the December break.

Anyone who tests positive will not be allowed to return to the school and must get a PCR test.

The Department of Health will be notified of positive PCR tests and carry out contact tracing and quarantine measures.

Clear lateral flow test results do not have to be reported.

The rapid lateral flow tests will be used with the school’s Covid-19 screening programme, which tests about 25 per cent of the school’s population every month.

The lateral flow tests for pupils will cost $39 a month for each child and will be charged to their family’s school accounts.

Lateral flow tests bought by the school are expected to arrive late next week and will be given to parents when they drop off or collect their children.

Pupils who travel to school by themselves will be handed the tests.

Testing will be mandatory for teachers but optional for pupils.

Parents who do not want their child to have the lateral flow must complete a opt-out form on the SaltusLive website by Friday.

But Ms Lavell said: “We sincerely hope that all our families will participate in the rapid testing so that we can do everything we can to help our students and staff stay safe and in school during this pandemic.”

She added that the school was in contact with the health and education ministries to determine other ways to keep the school open for as long as possible and would update parents on progress.

Lateral flow tests are used by schools in North America and the UK.

Other private schools who plan to use lateral flow tests were not identified.