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4th December 2020

I am pleased to inform you that we have secured mass COVID-19 testing on the Newcastle and Stafford College sites, which will be made available to all students and staff who are on campus between 7-11 December 2020. We will be using the lateral flow antigen test, which is a rapid turnaround test that can process samples on-site and produce quick results.

Anyone can be a carrier of the COVID-19 virus without experiencing symptoms. The aim of this testing programme is to help identify asymptomatic individuals who are carrying the virus, so they can isolate, prevent further spread of the virus and in turn help to protect family members who are vulnerable or at high risk over the Christmas period.

Testing involves a simple self-administered swab of the throat and nose, and results will generally be available within 30 minutes. Testing is not mandatory, however we are strongly encouraging as many members of our college community as possible to take up the opportunity. We will be discussing testing during tutorial sessions and a video will be shared to ensure everyone who takes a test has a good understanding of the testing process and what they need to do. Test appointments will be centrally co-ordinated via class groups/curriculum bubbles, as a result, students cannot drop in for a test on an ad-hoc basis as we want to carefully manage the number of people in the test centre at any given time.

Everyone who takes a test will receive their results via text message or email, so it is important they bring their mobile phone to the appointment with them. In the event that someone tests positive for the virus, we will arrange for them to be collected from the College and provided with support and further information on self-isolation and contact tracing.

Learners who are on a remote learning week next week should not come in to college for a test, we will contact these learners separately about opportunities to access testing during w/c 14 December.

It is important to stress that the lateral flow testing is not suitable for anyone who already has COVID-19 symptoms. Advice for anyone with symptoms remains unchanged - you must NOT come to college and must inform us of your absence via the student absence line. If you are displaying symptoms, you should follow the NHS advice and book a test using the following link.

I would like to thank Staffordshire County Council for their support in helping us to enable this valuable opportunity, taking a test is a quick and easy way to detect the virus, which will support our community’s efforts in helping to fight COVID-19. I hope the initiative will help to reduce the risk of having to ask individuals to self-isolate over the Christmas period and help us to protect ourselves, our friends and our families.

As always, thank you for your continued support.

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