Feasibility and acceptability of daily testing at school as an alternative to self-isolation following close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19: a qualitative analysis.
Denford S., Towler L., Ali B., Treneman-Evans G., Bloomer R., Peto TE., Young BC., Yardley L.
BACKGROUND: Daily testing using a rapid Lateral Flow Device (LFD) has been suggested as an alternative to self-isolation. A randomised trial comparing daily contact testing (DCT) in schools with self-isolation found that SARS-CoV-2 transmission within school was comparable and low in both groups. However, if this approach is to be adopted widely, it is critical that we understand the perspective of those who will be delivering and receiving DCT. The aim of this qualitative process study embedded in the randomised controlled trial (RCT) was to improve understanding of a range of behavioural factors that could influence implementation. METHODS: Interviews were conducted with 63 participants, including staff, students, and parents of students who had been identified as being in close contact with someone with COVID-19. The topic guide explored perceptions of daily testing, understanding of positive and negative test results, and adherence to guidance. Data were analysed using an inductive thematic approach. RESULTS: Results were organised under three main headings: (1) factors influencing daily testing (2) interpretation of test results (3) behaviour during testing period. Participants recognized that daily testing may allow students to remain in school, which was viewed as necessary for both education and social needs. Whilst some felt safer as a result of daily testing, others raised concerns about safety. Participants did not always understand how to interpret and respond to test results, and although participants reported high levels of adherence to the guidance, improved communications were desired. CONCLUSION: Daily testing may be a feasible and acceptable alternative to self-isolation among close contacts of people who test positive. However, improved communications are needed to ensure that all students and parents have a good understanding of the rationale for testing, what test results mean, how test results should be acted on, and how likely students are to test positive following close contact. Support is needed for students and parents of students who have to self-isolate and for those who have concerns about the safety of daily testing.