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Am I right in thinking that most boarding schools are only testing symptomatic pupils, not doing whole-population testing?

(36 Posts)
Michaelah Mon 05-Oct-20 13:23:04

DS's school is testing all pupils regularly, which is causing chaos as it is finding lots of asymptomatic pupils, in turn causing cascades of boys sent home as contacts. Am curious if my understanding that this is an unusual approach is right - my impression is that most schools aren't doing this, instead just testing in line with NHS guidance.

Would love to hear how your DCs' schools are running their testing regimes.

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nolanscrack Mon 05-Oct-20 13:49:34

If your school has just sent home all of year 12 and fair number from other years then we are probably parents at the same school,some parents think we are acting as a case study/trial for PHE..

PineappleUpsideDownCake Mon 05-Oct-20 13:55:00

It certainly makes you winder if theres tons of asymptomatic cases in other schools doesnt3it.

Michaelah Mon 05-Oct-20 14:02:27

nolanscrack

If your school has just sent home all of year 12 and fair number from other years then we are probably parents at the same school,some parents think we are acting as a case study/trial for PHE..

Judging by your handle, yes it is the same school. About 27 of circa 50 boys in his house are at home isolating for one reason or another, and his econ class of 18-20 was today down to 3 physical attendees.

I find it hard to believe that our boys are substantially more plague-ridden than others, so yes, @PineappleUpsideDownCake, it does make you wonder.

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nolanscrack Mon 05-Oct-20 14:21:33

If they continue as they are,then no pupils will be attending after long leave,talking to parents at other schools ,they are only testing symptomatic pupils and have virtual full year groups..we are definitely out on a limb on this one and I dont see how it can continue..

Zodlebud Mon 05-Oct-20 14:21:36

Our school is 50% 50% boarding. Any of the three main symptoms in a day girl then they are sent home and not allowed back until proof of a negative result. All other children can stay in school unless displaying symptoms.

Any three of the symptoms in a boarder then the whole boarding bubble (they are split into many) is sent home and can’t return until the child with symptoms has proof of a negative test.

If there’s a positive test then the whole year group bubble is sent home.

Zodlebud Mon 05-Oct-20 14:23:37

The latest ONS report suspected as many as 20% of the population have it at present. Looking at the University of Northumberland stats - almost 800 students with a positive result but only 78 of those showing symptoms.

I’m fairly certain far more people have it than they think!!

movingonup20 Mon 05-Oct-20 14:40:09

Symptoms are not relevant in younger people. Finally we got hold of antibody tests (connections!) and my whole family have tested positive but I'm the only one who had a very slight fever (around 4 hours) and lost my taste and smell. The other 3 have no idea when they had it, I don't live with them but was there until 5 days before my symptoms. At DD's old boarding school they are keeping them onsite (poor kids) testing before term started

Looneytune253 Mon 05-Oct-20 14:51:59

Surely it's a good thing they're managing to test so widely so it can stop spread to someone more vulnerable? I'm sure it's reassuring to older members of staff or children with medical problems

ineedaholidaynow Mon 05-Oct-20 14:55:01

DS's school is mainly day pupils but does have a few boarders, mainly foreign. If any boarder shows any symptoms then the boarding house is treated as a household and it has to be locked down, until test result arrives.

No whole population testing being done, only on children with symptoms.

Michaelah Mon 05-Oct-20 15:00:44

Looneytune253

Surely it's a good thing they're managing to test so widely so it can stop spread to someone more vulnerable? I'm sure it's reassuring to older members of staff or children with medical problems

I can understand that argument @Looneytune253 and it is a tricky one, but on the basis that it seems very few other schools are doing this, it seems to be making the school unnecessarily hard to run. Or alternatively that all schools, boarding and day should do it, and then everything will grind to a halt.
Perhaps it is going to anyway.

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thereinmadnesslies Mon 05-Oct-20 15:02:11

Our school is only 25% boarders, and they are only testing those with symptoms. No cases yet 🤞

PineappleUpsideDownCake Mon 05-Oct-20 15:06:19

I think this needs to be wider knowledge in terms of implications for schools (and 20% currently have it!?!?!? How!?!? 6 months in would that mean people are getting it repeatedly.)

Figures like this puzzle me as atnone extreme its say 10 cases in the whole borough or possible 20% of people!

Michaelah Mon 05-Oct-20 15:31:06

@PineappleUpsideDownCake I think our school's first run of testing came out at about 2% positive for the two years of sixth form (much less for the younger boys) . The DHSS study from Sept 18-24 (https://www.gov.uk/government/news/interim-results-from-largest-covid-19-study-published) estimates 1% infection rate for the 18-24 age group, so given the small sample size at school this could well be within rounding error.

@Zodlebud do you by any chance a link to the ONS report you mentioned - would be v curious to see that as the ONS stuff I can find is way lower than even the DHSS one linked above, but it is so hard to get all the sources straight so I could well be looking in the wrong place :-)

But in any case it woudn't be unreasonable to assume that 1% of sixth formers/college students are silently infected.

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Devlesko Mon 05-Oct-20 15:44:46

Ours take temperature every day, and only come home if temperature and other symptoms.
Mine has a cold and had a temperature a couple of days ago. She just had to stay in medical until it was confirmed a cold, runny nose and eyes etc.
We are ready if they do need to close as we are emergency collection for two friends, in her household bubble. Unless of course they have tested positive. We get one hours notice to collect.

Tuliptulip Mon 05-Oct-20 15:51:07

I have children at two different full boarding schools. Neither is testing non-symptomatic cases and neither has yet had any positive tests.

Zodlebud Mon 05-Oct-20 15:53:36

@Michaelah Sorry, my mistake. Up to 1 in 200 people (not 20%) - that would seem way too high.

www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/healthandsocialcare/conditionsanddiseases/bulletins/coronaviruscovid19infectionsurveypilot/englandwalesandnorthernireland2october2020

As it’s done on a sample basis then depending on where in the UK you are, the highest rates are 1 in 500 to 1 in 200, but this extends out into the thousands if you are looking at the true statistical model variations.

Unless we are testing everybody regularly like in some boarding schools then we really won’t know.

thebabewiththepower Mon 05-Oct-20 15:58:54

The school I work at are only testing with symptoms. It is clear that most kids are asymptomatic and testing whole populations will just send most of the years home. I'm not really sure what the point of any of it is if 70-80% are showing no symptoms, why isolate anyone at all if it's so prevalent. Complete farce really.

thebabewiththepower Mon 05-Oct-20 15:59:50

To add, some other schools have tested whole populations have have found about 10 per 1000 positive but asymptomatic cases.

lockd0wn101 Tue 06-Oct-20 11:40:40

Daily temperature taking, multiple times throughout the day. Symptomatic testing only.

covidstuff Tue 06-Oct-20 12:33:26

We've seen how successful Trump's policy of testing but not actually taking effective action to prevent spread was. I'm afraid what the school in question has decided to do is very similar. You say testing "regularly", and if it had actually doing that - testing every few days, or at least following up any round of tests that produces positives with another a few days later, until a round produces no positives - then testing might actually have been a useful contribution to controlling spread. Testing just twice, though, while running supposed year-group bubbles but having the years not effectively separated in the houses where they live, though, is arguably the worst of both worlds. They get to know about lots of cases but not in a way that actually stops spread. It's the lack of infection control that's the real problem here, not the testing: there have been enough symptomatic cases that the running of the school would have been seriously disrupted even if the asymptomatic cases had stayed undiscovered.

I'm hoping that if the school opens physically at all after long leave, it will do so with house bubbles.

It'll be interesting to see how many y12 boys actually go back for the last few days before long leave.

Tuliptulip Tue 06-Oct-20 23:52:05

If it’s the school I’m thinking of, I know a year 12 who has tested positive and been sent home. Isn’t that an obvious way to spread it around the country? There is a reason that university students aren’t being allowed to go home...

Revengeofthepangolins Wed 07-Oct-20 10:32:33

covidstuff

We've seen how successful Trump's policy of testing but not actually taking effective action to prevent spread was. I'm afraid what the school in question has decided to do is very similar. You say testing "regularly", and if it had actually doing that - testing every few days, or at least following up any round of tests that produces positives with another a few days later, until a round produces no positives - then testing might actually have been a useful contribution to controlling spread. Testing just twice, though, while running supposed year-group bubbles but having the years not effectively separated in the houses where they live, though, is arguably the worst of both worlds. They get to know about lots of cases but not in a way that actually stops spread. It's the lack of infection control that's the real problem here, not the testing: there have been enough symptomatic cases that the running of the school would have been seriously disrupted even if the asymptomatic cases had stayed undiscovered.

I'm hoping that if the school opens physically at all after long leave, it will do so with house bubbles.

It'll be interesting to see how many y12 boys actually go back for the last few days before long leave.

@covidstuff That is a really interesting point.

In practice though, short of changing everyone's house so that each house only had one year group in it, I don't really see how house bubbles could work, given they need to sit with boys from other houses in class. And most schools haven't reorganised their houses this way, I think, although I think there have been a couple who have made the plunge. Maybe just more strictness with masks and things would help.

Maybe a Christmas hols investment in portocabin bathrooms looms.

Michaelah Wed 07-Oct-20 10:36:38

Tuliptulip

If it’s the school I’m thinking of, I know a year 12 who has tested positive and been sent home. Isn’t that an obvious way to spread it around the country? There is a reason that university students aren’t being allowed to go home...

@Tuliptulip Curiously it is PHE who insisted boys went home I believe. Agree it seems surprising. But I guess keeping positives at school puts staff at risk. And the same argument made about isolating contacts (plus perhaps the fact that isolating in a school bedroom is a bit grim)

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covidstuff Wed 07-Oct-20 11:34:55

@Revengeofthepangolins there's a school in Hampshire that could offer a few lessons, I gather... W spent the first two weeks, at least, doing lessons on line from the houses, i.e. real house bubbles, not physically mixing with other houses at all, for, in effect, a quarantine period. That's what it takes, I'm afraid. Not sure how they're doing now, mind, but I was impressed by what I heard at the start of term. There is always, of course, a question about whether what you offer is good enough to be worth the risk of having people on site at all. That's obviously why E went the way it did, but I'm afraid it's looking to me as though it gambled and lost. Could still turn around I suppose.

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