COVID-19 testing in schools

Types of Test:
LFD tests (Lateral Flow Device)

LFDs are a fast way to identify individuals with lots of the virus and who are very infectious. 1 in 3 people with COVID-19 have no symptoms so this test is useful for finding cases we would not otherwise know about.
LFD tests are for people who do not have any symptoms.

PCR tests (Polymerase Chain Reaction)

PCR tests are more sensitive and used to confirm suspected cases. The result takes longer as is processed in a lab. PCR tests are for people with COVID-19 symptoms or used as a follow up after a positive LFD result.


Negative LFD

  • Active coronavirus infection was not detected at the time of the test but does not guarantee the
    person does not have coronavirus. Continue to follow coronavirus guidance including handwashing,
    social distancing and wearing a face covering where required
  • Schools do not need to inform DCC Education of negative LFD results unless you are seeing consecutive positive and negative results on LFDs. For support call DCC Public Health team on (01392) 38300 and ask for ‘Public Health’

Positive LFD

  • If a pupil/staff member has a positive LFD result, take immediate public health action; the positive case must self-isolate at home along with their household contacts
  • Identify close contacts in school and ask them to self-isolate
  • The case must take a follow-up PCR test as soon as possible and within 2 days of the positive LFD
    result. Book a test online or call 119 for an appointment at a testing centre. A PCR home test kit can be used but it may take longer for the results to come back.
  • Inform Devon County Council of the positive LFD result through the smart survey link

Positive PCR (following a positive LFD test or PCR test taken due to symptoms)

  • Positive case and their close contacts must continue to self-isolate at home for 10 days
  • Close contacts of a positive case must complete 10-day self-isolation even if they test negative
  • Family members of close contacts do not need to self-isolate (unless someone in their household subsequently develops symptoms; this person should get tested with a PCR test)
  • Inform Devon County Council of the positive pupil/staff PCR result through the smart survey link

Negative PCR

  • If a follow-up PCR test is negative and was done within 2 days of a positive LFD result – the person,
    their household members and close contacts can stop self-isolating
  • All existing protective measures should be continued to reduce the risk of transmission
  • If the negative PCR result followed a positive LFD result inform Devon County via the smart survey link so we can accurately capture case number

90-day exception

  • Staff/pupils who have previously tested positive by PCR are exempt from testing for 90 days. If someone takes an LFD test in this period and receives a positive result, follow the steps above

LFD asymptomatic testing and ‘close contacts’

  • Pupils (secondary/college only) and staff identified as close contacts can continue to test using LFDs
    during their self-isolation period. If the LFD is positive, they should take a follow-up PCR test

COVID-19 testing in schools – factsheet