Waltham Forest College partners with the London Borough of Waltham Forest Council in developing a pilot testing programme for all staff and students, to minimise the risk of spreading the disease.

The Department for Health and Social Care has provided the London Borough of Waltham Forest (LBWF) with new rapid ‘lateral flow’ Covid-19 tests for a pilot programme of testing in the borough. As an anchor institution within the community, Waltham Forest College has been working in close partnership with LBWF in developing a pilot testing programme for all staff and students. This will reduce the risk of positive transmission within the College and the wider community.

The testing site has been set up within the College and an existing open area has been re-purposed temporarily for this dedicated use. The first phase of the pilot has been to test staff from the college in preparation for the wider roll-out to all students.

The tests are self-administered through a throat and nose swab with trained facilitators from LBWF on hand to support; The tests are purely voluntary and can provide results in 30 minutes, helping to identify people who may have the virus but are not showing any symptoms.

College Principal, Janet Gardner said:

“The wellbeing of our students and staff is our absolute priority and I have been incredibly proud of the determination and resilience showed by our students and staff since the start of term.

To have these testing centres open so quickly is a testament to our dedicated staff as well as the partnership approach with the local authority. Waltham Forest College is a key institution within our local community, and we will continue to step up and support our health system during this crucial stage of the pandemic.”

The tests have been positively endorsed by the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, who visited the College’s test site on Monday 14th December to support Waltham Forest College in being the first Further Education (FE) College to be offering lateral flow testing on-site.

He said: “Increased testing is key to getting the spread under control, which is why I want to see regular asymptomatic testing extended to all those unable to work from home and to students and staff at London’s secondary schools, sixth-form college and FE colleges.”

The borough’s Director of Public Health, Joe McDonnell, added: “The tests will allow us to quickly identify people who may unwittingly have the virus, so they can isolate, and protect vital services for particularly vulnerable residents, allowing them to remain open.

“This pilot scheme is in the very early stages and should it prove successful we plan to roll it out to other similar settings.”

Anyone displaying Covid-19 symptoms is encouraged to immediately get a conventional test by visiting www.nhs.uk/coronavirus or calling 119.

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