15th April 2021
You should have been told that your school is taking part in the Daily Contact Testing Trial being run in several schools and colleges in England, whereby any contacts of positive cases will be asked to test daily for 7 days as an alternative to self-isolation, and as long as they continue to test negative, they will be able to carry on going to school/college.
GMB are currently updating the FAQs to cover issues arising from this, and that will be available via the schools hub.
The study’s advice to participants is:
“If your daily test is negative, it is likely that you are not infectious, and you may go to into school that day. However, you should recognise that you are at greater risk of having the virus as you have been in contact with your colleague who tested positive, and so you should still follow Hands Face Space and avoid risky behaviour. When you are not attending or travelling to school, you need to self-isolate. This means you need to stay at home after school and on weekends. This is required by law, just as it would be for someone outside the trial who had been in contact with someone testing positive for COVID-19.”
GMB obviously have concerns regarding this trial because we feel that it puts you at unnecessary greater risk of catching Covid whilst at work, we have raised our concerns with the DfE, DHSC and Office of National Statistics who are co-ordinating the trial but feel that the best approach we can take is to inform members who are working in schools that are part of the trial what you need to know and what you should be doing.
Can you please ensure you note and do the following:
- Engagement with the trial is voluntary and will only include staff and students who consent to take part, this said I’m sure if a school is part of the trial staff may feel/be pressurised by Heads/SLT to test and attend work rather than go home and self-isolate.
- It is essential that in consultation with GMB Reps and staff Risk Assessments are revisited, reviewed, and updated to consider the additional risks that involvement with this trial inevitably brings.
If you do not want to participate in DCT do not consent to being part of the trial and should you feel that you are being put under pressure to partake, contact your GMB Rep, Branch Secretary or Regional Officer as a matter of urgency.
Headteachers/Principals or relevant person should have already consulted with members and reps on reviewing and updating risk assessments to consider and counteract the additional risks that inevitably arise by being in the trial and particular attention should be paid to:
- Social Distancing – This should now be at least 2 metres and rigorous monitoring should be in place.
- Bubbles/Groups (sizes & maintaining) – These should be revisited/reviewed and preferably downsized.
- Face Coverings & PPE – These should now be mandatory for all staff and pupils
- Ventilation -Windows/doors should be open at all times and it would be preferable to have relevant grade air purifiers.
- Cleaning Personal/Equipment – This will need to be rigorous and monitored.
- Start/Finish Times – Should be looked at again with a view to reducing risk.
Members and reps should be consulted on the new risk assessment if this has not happened you need to ask your head teacher or relevant person, if having an involvement is refused you need to contact your GMB Rep/Branch Secretary or Regional Officer for advice on taking this forward.