Like many schools throughout the country, a handful of students have been continuing to work at school, and some teachers have been teaching in the virtual classroom from their real classrooms. As such, it was essential to set up a testing site for the school in the name of safety, legal requirements and potentially as an excuse to torment pupils! Sadly, showing symptoms of the coronavirus does not account for everyone who has it; many people are asymptomatic and show no symptoms of the virus.

For students and staff alike, this is one of the few tests where you want to fail. The test we take at school is called a lateral flow test, and works thus:

From left to right: a lateral flow device, a swab and a container with buffer solution.

Firstly, take a swab and use it to sample your tonsils (around the back of your mouth) and your nose. It is then mixed with a buffer solution (which is a special solution which can resist small pH changes). As a result, if the virus is present it will be reduced to fragments.

Drops of the solution are then added to a lateral flow device. Lateral flow devices allow the drops to flow along a strip, and have antibodies on them. If antibodies detect fragments of the virus, they attach to the fragments and you will be able to see a line form on the device. Antibodies which do not attach to anything flow to the control zone and form another line.

Therefore, if you see a singular line it means that no antibodies attached themselves to fragments of the virus, so the sample did not have the virus, so - hooray! - the test result is negative. If two lines form, however, we know that some antibodies attached to fragments of the virus. This means, unfortunately, you have passed the test and had the coronavirus when you took the test.

Personally, I am quite a squeamish person and the first time I took the lateral flow test I struggled to bring myself to sample my mouth and nose. Having done it for a few weeks though, it is now very manageable (although still a bit uncomfortable).

It is expected that, if Year 11s are to return to Challoner’s soon, there will be mass testing for the benefit of everybody’s safety!