Are home testing kits the way of the future?

Weekly testing for students in the UK has become part of their routine with school children now starting to receive home testing kits, but when will this become more widespread?

 At Plymouth Marjon University, they started up an asymptomatic test centre at the beginning of January, for both students and staff. This is accessible for both students living on campus and those which decide to travel in for lectures. Those living on campus have been encouraged to get tested twice a week, whilst those who may only be on campus once a week have been told to just get tested each time. The test centre opens at 8 am each day, and is available to be booked in 15 minute slots on ‘Learning Space’, which is part of the University’s software.

Although the testing centre is quick and easy and has been used frequently by students, for those who need to get tested before a 10 am lecture, it has proven quite difficult. Especially for those who don’t live on campus, or are attending a lecture at the BBC studios down at Mutley in Plymouth. By implementing home testing kits within the University, this would allow students to get tested in the comfort of their own home, without having to work around time schedules. Marjon student Megan Jones has struggled with this issue herself. By living in Mutley she is closer to the BBC rather than the University campus, meaning she would be wasting time going back and forth between locations. With the introduction of home testing kits, it would help many students with the same problem. Megan said that her boyfriend’s Mum works for the NHS and “had some test kits to spare so very kindly she let me borrow them,” “I have been speaking with some people I know at the Uni about at home test kits being available for students, and I know that is something that’s in discussion and will hopefully be happening soon”.

Home testing kits are beginning to be distributed across schools, colleges and work placements, with the government encouraging people to collect them from there rather than ordering online. If you do wish to order home testing kits online, you are only eligible if:

  • You’re 18 or older
  • You live in England
  • You do not have coronavirus symptoms
  • You have not been told to self-isolate
  • You or someone in your household, childcare or support bubble attends a primary school, a nursery, a secondary school, a sixth form, a college, or works at one
  • You cannot get tests from a test site or your work

https://www.gov.uk/order-coronavirus-rapid-lateral-flow-tests

One particular school, Saltash Community School, have begun to give out home testing kits to students, which they are asked to do twice a week.

The kits students from this school have been given, include 3 tests (one spare), and they are asked to use them on both Thursday and Sunday each week.

Even though Plymouth Marjon University isn’t currently providing this service, there has been talk and speculation that this is something which will be available to students soon, should they wish to access it. Georgia Large, a third year student at Plymouth Marjon, works in the asymptomatic testing centre and has provided more information on the matter. She confirmed that: “The asymptomatic test centre doesn’t have home testing kits,” and doesn’t yet know when they will be provided with them, as decisions are made fortnightly. However, “The test centre by the sports centre is giving out 2 boxes of tests per person every afternoon from 1 pm”. Therefore students are still able to get home testing kits, if they know where to look.

As home testing kits become more widely available, the distribution of them across universities should become more apparent, and should be easily accessible to students.

A link to Lucy Ashford’s article about her first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine: https://sites.marjon.ac.uk/doughnut/2021/03/19/ive-been-jabbed/

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