Could unnecessarily testing of secondary school students worsen the problem? 

Coronavirus plans for January involve the lateral flow testing of students returning to school next month. The purpose is to locate any possible asymptomatic cases and prevent the spread of the virus.

This all seems like a good thing, and why wouldn’t it? The sooner the virus is no longer a threat, the sooner life can return to normal. But the issues lie with the test itself. 

Negative test results could cause students to be less active on social distancing, meaning that any false negatives become more dangerous than no test at all and if the child contracted the virus a short time after the test they may be reassured incorrectly that they are not infected. 

But what if a student gets a positive test? Well the issue here lies in the fact that the student will have been going to school between the time of getting the test and the time of receiving the results, this renders the test essentially pointless. They may have already spread the disease to countless others before even realising they have it.

Another issue lies in the fact that children will have to travel to get these tests and the journey could potentially put them in danger of contracting the illness despite the purpose of the trip being to combat the pathogen’s spread. If a child travels on public transport or walks then they’re at risk of catching it from an infectious stranger. 

This also brings up issues for how children with busy parents will get there. A student with two nhs workers as parents may struggle to find a way to get to the testing sight causing unnecessary stress to the family or even possibly forcing an essential worker to take time off of their job for it.

Finally, there are so many students who will need to be tested, is it worth wasting the essential tests when there are others who may need them more? While there doesn’t appear to be a significant shortage of tests at the current time, what if the unexpected were to happen and many people found themselves unable to get tested?