A Forest school will be taking part in a pilot which will see Rapid Covid-19 Antigen tests being rolled out among students and staff.

Ringwood School has been invited by NHS Test and Trace and the University of Oxford to join a small number of schools in the region that are taking part in research to finalise the effectiveness of the new, minimally-invasive, screening test for Covid-19.

If shown to work successfully, it may become the standard test that all schools use both to identify whether members of a school community are infectious or give reassurance that they are Covid-free at the point in time that the test is taken.

The test can be carried out regularly and return results within an hour. Similar tests are being finalised for use in universities, workplaces, airports, and sports matches.

A spokesperson from the school said: “After months spent narrowing down the best options, the scientists have asked us and along with some other schools, to be part of a trial to see how well their test works within a school setting; how easy it is to use and how effectively it can be run across large numbers of people in a short space of time.

“The test itself uses a nasal swab. The process of testing involves a soft cotton bud being rubbed around the inside of the nostril 3 or 4 times. It is very quick and will not be uncomfortable.”

If a test result is positive – either a strong positive or two consecutive weak positives – a further additional swab sample will be taken for further testing using a ‘gold standard’ PCR test, which will be sent to Public Health England’s laboratories whilst the person and their household isolate.

For staff and students identified as a close contact of a positive case going forward, it is now possible to offer an alternative to self-isolation for those taking part in the pilot. As long as the close contacts have tested negative on the same day as the positive case; have no symptoms and agree to be retested at least every two days for a period of 14 days they can stay in school.

The repeat testing is to ensure that we all remain confident that they remain negative.