More than 600 school children and teachers in Greater Manchester have taken part in a new voluntary coronavirus study, which is assessing the prevalence of COVID-19 in school pupils and teachers.
Officially launched by the Government last month, the national Public Health England’s (PHE) study, called ‘sKID’, will add to data on antibody and virus prevalence already being collected through other national surveillance programmes and nationwide studies.
At Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust (MFT) the study is led by Dr Shazaad Ahmad, a Consultant Virologist based within MFT’s Manchester Medical Microbiology Partnership.
Dr Ahmad said: “On behalf of MFT, I’d like to express our gratitude to the children and teachers who have taken part in this study so far, who are helping researchers gain a deeper understanding of the spread of COVID-19.
“This study will add to national understanding of how common asymptomatic and mild cases of COVID-19 are, with the results playing an important role in informing wider surveillance planned for educational settings in the autumn term.”
Nationally, the initial phase of sKID will collect data from up to 100 schools across England, with results available over the summer. Data will be fed back to inform a potential second phase study in September.
In Greater Manchester, MFT clinical research delivery teams have been visiting 10 primary schools throughout Greater Manchester and as of 3 July, have recruited more than 600 people to take part in the study.
Janette Dunkerley, Head of Nursing for Research and Innovation at MFT, said: “MFT has an established history of effectively recruiting to studies in schools. This has enabled our Research and Innovation teams to set this vital study up and deploy a clinical research delivery team, into local primary schools within a matter of days.
“I’d like to thank our partner schools, our MFT research delivery team, the children and teachers who have taken part in this research so far.”
Jill Wilson, Nurse Manager in Research, and Samantha Ratcliffe, Research Midwife Coordinator at MFT, have both led research teams visiting schools as part of the sKID study.
Jill said: “This has been a great opportunity to engage with local primary schools.
“My particular highlight was a young boy at Unity Community Primary whose attitude towards the study was as if he had been offered a ticket to Disneyland – ‘I’m so excited, this is great!’
“The staff were very friendly and led to successful visits at each school.”
Samantha added: “We have been amazed at the response from parents, staff and children and their willingness to participate in this important research.
“The staff at the schools have made us feel very welcome during our visits and we are looking forward to visiting them again soon.”
Nine-year-old Caleb Ashforth, from Oldham (pictured), was one of the Greater Manchester school children to take part in the sKID study.
His mum, Debbie Ashforth, said: “I want to say a big thank you to the nursing staff that attended St Anne’s School last week. They were all very friendly and each individual explained everything very well to my son, Caleb, and put him at ease.
“He did not even require numbing cream – and they all clapped him for his bravery! He was very happy with his certificate too.”
Karen Bramwell, Chief Executive Officer of the Forward As One Church of England Multi Academy Trust, said: “Our schools, pupils and teachers were absolutely delighted and privileged to participate in the study.
“Thanks once again to Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust for involving all seven of our schools in the programme.”
Read more about the sKID study on the Department of Health and Social Care website.