Updated - Lateral flow test guidance for schools

Updated - Lateral flow test guidance for schools
10 March 2021
We have created a guidance document to support schools and other organisations with their COVID-19 testing ahead of reopening on 8th March

In England, primary school children, secondary school pupils and college students as well as university students on practical courses who need access to specialist facilities and equipment all returned on Monday 8th March.

All secondary school and college students will take COVID-19 tests at existing school testing facilities when they return to the classroom. In order to support education providers with this testing, the IBMS has used our members' expertise to create a simple and easy to understand guidance document to complement not replace the Department of Health and Social Care and/or Innova instructions.

Update - 10th March 

Following reports over the weekend (6-7th March 2021) concerning potential “false positive” results from the Lateral Flow devices (LFDs), the quoted rate of between 1 and 3 in 1, 000 tests giving potential false positive results is factually correct. It represents the reported specificity of 99.7% found in an evaluation conducted by the DHSC, PHE and University of Oxford of the Innova LFD. Whilst this is very good specificity and shows that in general you can trust a positive result, any positive lateral flow test should be confirmed by main laboratory PCR.

However, it is important to be aware that when used by laboratory staff or fully trained healthcare workers, in the study of community testing centres that involved a mixture of people with and without COVID-19 symptoms, sensitivity for LFDs were found to be 76.8%. Which is a false negative rate of 2-3 in 10 (232 in 1,000).

In a follow-up study, it was found that the sensitivity for self-trained members of the public was 57.5%. So that is a false negative rate of around 6 in 10. IBMS members, teachers and parents should therefore view a negative lateral flow test as an indication that “on this day, using this test device, SARS-CoV-2 was not detected” and proceed with the usual COVID-19 safety precautions, as directed.

To download it, just click the image below:


Further government information about students returning to schools can be found here. 

Reporting results:

this service to report your result to the NHS after using a COVID-19 lateral flow test kit.

Report the result:

  • every time you use a lateral flow test kit
  • as soon as possible after you get the result

You cannot report a result after more than 24 hours.

Back to news listing