Liverpool Hope University has outlined plans to test all students for Covid-19 as they return to campus following the Christmas break.
And doing so will not only protect the wider Hope family, it could also speed-up a return to face-to-face teaching.
Since October the University’s campuses have played home to on-site Asymptomatic Test Centres administering ‘lateral flow’ antigen tests. These are designed to detect the virus in individuals who do not experience and show any symptoms, but who could still be infectious and pass the virus to others.
There’s a good Hope explainer video about the system here.
The University asked all students heading home for Christmas to record two negative lateral flow tests, three days apart, before being allowed home for the Christmas holiday.
And now that system will be deployed once more, but in reverse, for those returning to the University in order to protect both residential and academic bubbles.
Dr Penny Haughan, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Student Life and Learning, said: “With the decrease in Covid-19 cases in the City, the reduced R number for the NW and the imminent release of the vaccine, we can start to believe that there is light at the end of the tunnel.
“We are hopeful that this means that we can begin a gradual and phased process to some sort of normality, in terms of teaching, during the coming Term.
“But we must remain cautious. And that means the continued testing of students, in line with Government guidance, to protect the entire Hope family.”
Here’s everything you need to know about the post-Christmas Covid-19 testing:
Who should get tested and when?
All students should get tested.
If you have symptoms you should follow NHS guidance through their website.
If you are asymptomatic you should use one of the University or local test centres. This is particularly important when you return to halls of residence, plan to access University facilities or have a placement or face-to-face teaching. You should get tested twice before you do any of these things.
So, what is the testing requirement?
Students must be tested twice, with the tests falling three days apart. So, for example, if you have your first test on a Monday, you should wait until Thursday for your second test.
I’m returning to Hope from a Tier 3 area - is there a specific requirement for me?
Any student returning from a Tier 3 area must get at least one test in that area before returning to Liverpool. If a local testing site is unavailable they can do this through a postal kit by explaining that they are part of the community testing programme.
(Note: Use this link - https://www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test. When asked, ‘Is the person who needs a test part of a trial or government pilot project?’ answer ‘Yes’. When asked then tick the box ‘The person is taking part in community testing’)
I don’t have face-to-face teaching yet - do I still need to get tested?
The requirement for testing isn’t just for face-to-face teaching - you need to return two negative tests if you plan to use University facilities, like the library or IT suites, too. The same applies even if you live at home.
When and where can I get tested?
Testing resumes on Monday 4th January so that placement students can get their two tests done before they have to go back on placement on the 11th Jan.
For that first week only, we'll be expanding from two sites to three and plan to carry out two days of testing at Aigburth.
Liverpool City Council are also running test centres, which you can locate here.
The schedule for that initial week will be to alternate between sites at Aigburth and the Creative Campus alongside a constant presence at Hope Park.
Monday 4th - Friday 8th Jan: Hope Park Sports Centre (open 12pm Monday, rest of week 10am-5pm, last entry 4:20pm)
Monday 4th Jan: Aigburth Park Trinity Room (opens at 12pm-5pm, last entry 4:20pm)
Tuesday 5th Jan: Creative Campus Reading Room (10am-5pm, last entry 4:20pm)
Thursday 7th Jan: Aigburth Park Trinity Room (10am-5pm, last entry 4:20pm)
Friday 8th Jan: Creative Campus Reading Room (10-5pm, last entry 4:20pm)
Monday 11th Jan onwards: Hope Park Sports Centre and Creative Campus Reading Room (10am-5pm, last entry 4:20pm)
Do I need to book in advance?
We’d strongly encourage you to, yes. You can book here:
My face-to-face teaching resumes at the start of term - when can I get tested?
Students who are returning to any face to face teaching in specialist subjects at the start of term must get tested in the week before this recommences; for Level H testing is in w/c 4 Jan (for 11 Jan start), Levels F and C testing w/c 11 Jan (for 18 Jan start) and Level I testing w/c 18 Jan (for 25 Jan start).
All other students must get tested before returning to classrooms and more information on timing of this will be given in due course.
I’d like to continue to get regular testing, just to be on the safe side. Is that possible?
Yes, it is. All students are welcome to undertake testing on a regular basis if they wish to do so - this can be through the University sites or through those publically available.
Why do I need to do two tests - won’t one suffice?
Research suggests the current lateral flow ‘lateral flow’ antigen test has been found to have high specificity but with slightly lower sensitivity i.e. potential to miss some Covid-19 positive cases. Therefore the two tests conducted close to each other are a measure to pick up any case that was missed in the first round or newly developed cases.
Will I be given instructions once more if I’m not sure how to do the test?
You’ll be greeted by a trained member of staff who will talk you through the procedure. You’ll have access to a mirror so you can apply the swab to the correct area of the mouth. Lateral flow tests have undergone rigorous testing and evaluation including at Public Health England’s research laboratories to ensure they are verified for use. Another little tip - holding your breath while swabbing your mouth helps to suppress the gag reflex.
What should I bring with me?
You need to bring your mobile phone with you, as well as being able to provide your mobile number and email address - as this is how your results will be transmitted to you, typically within 30 minutes, by the NHS. The University does not access test result data.
I’m already self isolating - should I leave home to get a test?
No, stay where you are. If you're already self-isolating due to contact with a confirmed case, you should not leave to get tested until your self-isolation period ends, and as long as you have not developed symptoms.
Do I have to do the test in front of other people?
No, you’ll have the privacy of a separate booth or you’ll be shielded from view by a screen.
What if I return a positive test?
Firstly, you need to let Hope’s dedicated Covid Control Team know about it, simply by emailing email@example.com, who will then give you precise instructions on how long you need to isolate for. A positive result also requires you to undertake a confirmatory ‘PCR’ test. You can book this via the NHS website - link here - or by calling 119 in England (When booking online, tick the box that says you’re part of the ‘government pilot project’ in Liverpool). A PCR test is different to a lateral flow test in that it looks for the virus’s genetic material (Ribonucleic acid or RNA) and requires a laboratory to be processed. If you have a positive antigen test but get a negative result on the PCR test, your contacts do not need to be traced and you can stop isolating.
Do I need to self-isolate between the two lateral flow tests?
No, not if you are negative on the first test.
What if I’m already displaying symptoms?
In that case do NOT come to us for the lateral flow test - contact the NHS immediately and arrange a test with them.
What happens if I’m exempted from wearing a mask or face covering?
Appropriate face coverings need to be worn throughout the testing process whilst in the testing facility apart from when guided by a testing professional to remove it when your sample is taken. Should you have age, health or disability reason for not wearing a face covering, please wear a visor to the site and alert the site manager about your situation as soon as you arrive at site so that they can take additional precautions.
Can my family get tested too?
No, this test is aimed at students and staff in universities. Family members of staff and students are not eligible. If family members experience COVID-19 symptoms, they must follow standard government guidance, including self-isolating immediately and booking a test.