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With schools and colleges opening after the summer break next week, secondary school and college age students, including pupils in Year 7 and 8 at middle school, will be required to take two onsite lateral flow tests at the start of the term, which will take place between three to five days apart.

After this, students will be encouraged to continue twice weekly lateral flow testing from home.

Students who receive a positive lateral flow test should self-isolate and book a follow-up PCR test.

If the PCR test is positive they will need to self-isolate for 10 full days.

Secondary school and college age students under 18 years and 6 months who have been in close contact with someone who receives a positive test will no longer have to self-isolate, but are encouraged to take a PCR test.

Students aged 11 and over who travel to school on public or dedicated school transport are expected to wear a face covering, unless they are exempt.

Dave Hodgson, Mayor of Bedford Borough, said:

“With children and young people returning to schools and colleges next week, our goal is to make this transition as safe as possible, while keeping life moving forward.

“Guidance on self-isolation and classroom bubbles has changed and regular rapid testing will help keep education facilities safe for students and staff by helping us to identify cases of COVID-19.

“Young people aged 16-17 can now also get one dose of the Pfizer vaccination by attending a drop-in clinic in Bedford Borough. This will help us keep our community safe and allow us to get back to the things we love.”

For more information and opening times of local vaccination drop in clinics, visit www.blmkccg.nhs.uk/drop-in.

Free lateral flow testing kits can be collected from participating local pharmacies or ordered online at www.gov.uk/order-coronavirus-rapid-lateral-flow-tests.