Caption "29 Hours and a test" with the backdrop of a stock photo with a COVID test
Children, Health

29 hours and a test

So the boys went back to school the first Wednesday of September 2020.

On the first Monday of September 2020, 6 days later after just 4 days in school, amounting to 29 hours including their breakfast and afterschool clubs, large boy spiked a 39.4°C temperature and they were both sent home.

Booking a test

After picking him up, we dosed him with calpol as his immediate wellbeing needed improving first. He was very warm and a quick inspection revealed a very red throat to match my own sore one.

Then I logged onto the NHS website, followed the link through to YouGov and filled in the first few steps of a form. Only tobe greeted with: “This service is currently unavailable, please try again in a few hours.”

Trying to book a test isn’t so simple. I tried Amazon as they’re partnered with the NHS to provide home test kits, only to be directed back to the same YouGov site.

Flabbergasted, I called our GP and luckily got the receptionist who I know. She didn’t have any other suggestions apart from trying 119 for the support line – which explained in a recorded message that the current allocation of home tests was assigned and no more were available.

Back to the website and refreshing as often as I could. Large boy perked up a lot, having been very pale and withdrawn when I picked him up from school. Even though we were fairly sure it was his tonsils at this point we knew he needed to be tested. We had no evidence that he didn’t have COVID – a mummy’s instincts don’t count and rightly so.

Eventually, 3 hours later a refresh gave me a new message: 54 slots were available. So I filled in some more forms (4 times so we could all get checked as I had a sore throat and small boy was a bit snotty). By the time I’d dug out our NHS numbers and completed everything it was down to 17 slots. Tap and click through to choose a site and time and our options are all 35 miles away or more. We picked the closest, still over an hour’s drive, and a slot the next morning.

The tests

We set off on the drive over to Huddersfield in plenty of time and found the testing site relatively easily. It was actually in Holmfirth at a leisure centre and we arrived ten minute early. It seemed that the 10.30am slot was the first one of the day as the support team were just finishing their briefing.

The staff beckoned each car over in order of arrival and asked us to open the driver’s window slightly. They scanned the appointment cards we’d printed out and provided us with a kit each – labelled with our seat position in the car so we would be able to track who’s was whose. Then we were directed over to a row of parking spaces where the cars parked up staggered at the front or back of the spaces.

Each pack contained a clear bag to seal up when we’d finished, a resealable bag containing an absorbent pad, a vial with some orange liquid and a sterile sealed swab. It seemed a bit odd that they didn’t have different swabs for children and adults, the nostril of a grown up and a five year old is not the same size.

The instructions were really clear and there was plenty of support staff around to advise if we needed it. First we swabbed the back of the throat and tonsils, then up the nose until you could feel resistance – each for 10 seconds. It was easy enough for me and himself. Large boy wasn’t too bad but kept wiggling his tongue. Small boy on the other hand developed some anticipation as we did his last, he yelped as soon as the swab touched the back of his throat and it took three goes to get the 10 seconds of contact. His nose was much worse, he was shrieking before I’d even touched him with it. We got there eventually but there was lots of screaming and tears and sweet-based bribery. And then he sneezed on the swab. Great.

Seriously folks, try sticking a cotton bud up the nose of a 5 year old on purpose – its a cruel and unusual punishment for all involved. I mean sure, they stick bigger things up there that they shouldn’t, but when something relatively soft needs poking around there is so much shouting!

After taking each swab, it was placed in the vial and snapped off so that the lid fitted back on properly.


When we’d collected them all, they each went in the matching sealable bag and one of the support people checked we’d done it right. I wrote on the labels of the original bags who each sample belonged to, so that we could keep track. Once the bags were sealed we drove back over to the gazebo at the entrance, where the bags and appointment QR codes were scanned again so the system knew which sample was for each of us.

That was it. Half and hour of trauma and getting hot and sticky and stressed, but it was done relatively painlessly.

The wait

When we handed over our samples we were told it could take between 4 and 48 hours to get the results through. I’d provided email and phone numbers for each booking so the wait by my phone started. I didn’t really expect to get the results the same day, but the next morning I began to hope for a text or email telling us everyone was negative. We were worried that the wriggling screaming boys would mean that the samples weren’t taken properly and couldn’t be analysed so that we’d have to start all over again.

All the next day I was checking every 10 minutes, my phone stayed right next to me all day. Or if I left it, I’d check email and messages immediately just in case I hadn’t heard a ping. But bedtime arrived and there was no notification.

The worry that the results were positive or that the samples were invalid began to mount. I managed to get to sleep eventually, but woke regularly all night hoping for an email or text.

Finally at quarter to six in the morning I tapped my phone and saw there were emails in my inbox – four of them, identical.

A few minutes later I got three text messages and himself got his own.

The results


Just the first such experience I fear. If this was just the first week of school – and I’ve since heard that several other children in the school have needed tests too, at least 2 in large boy’s class – then there are doubtless going to be many other such trips. Each time one of them has a temperature or a cough, we’ll be going through the same procedure.

It seems ridiculous that there aren’t local walk-in testing sites where we could have got a test immediately his temperature was high. There’s talk in the news of a 20 minute test too, which would have been great. One fewer days at home for the boys. For some parents the difference between a 20 minute test on the same day and having to wait a day or two to get tested and another two days for the results is the difference in maybe three or four days of income – that’s huge!

There are also spit tests that have been developed and validated too – wouldn’t that be much better suited to young children?

57 thoughts on “29 hours and a test”

  1. Wow I hope your whole family is doing better now! It’s insane to me how long it takes to get tested and get results. Here in the US when I looked, test slots weren’t available for 2 days and it’s an additional 2-6 for results. How crazy! By that time who knows how many people may have been infected. Hopefully school continues to go well 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What a dreadful experience. It’s bad enough for adults, let alone for kids. I’m glad that the result was negative. The testing system really does need to improve. I’m sure that we’ve all heard about the person in Scotland who was told that their nearest centre was in Ireland – completely ignoring the sea in between! I heard of another case yesterday where the person lived 100 yards from a testing centre but wasn’t allowed to use it! Let’s hope an approved vaccine is ready soon.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank God, you all are well. From starting of the blog I was eager to know the test result and was glad to see that you all are safe from Covid-19. take Care !!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Unfortunately children ALWAYS get sick. They’re like walking Petri dishes, and schools just magnify the issues. I’m glad your tests all came back negative though, and fingers crossed they’ll iron out the issues with applying for tests online!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think the online stuff is totally overwhelm at the moment. Someone I know was trying for 8hrs yesterday and got nowhere, she’s in pieces with anxiety.
      I think the kids have just proved that trying to contain and outbreak of anything in a school is nigh on impossible. If large boy had had COVID the whole school would be coming down with it next week. No amount of sanitiser and hand washing will stop the spread with kids in close contact.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Problem with the return will be a ‘freshers flu’ type thing. So long in isolation, now picking up germs as we start seeing people again. Then the school being overly cautious about temperature- even without covid symptoms.

    My girls are back in nursery this week and we all have runny noses now!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m fine with getting tested, especially as his temperature was so high. But the testing needs to be simpler, local and easy to book. Some families just wouldn’t have been able to do that and might have lost earnings.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I’m so glad to hear that the tests came back negative — but what a lot to have to go through just to get them done! My husband has had three tests in the last week, all rapid result ones from the hospital where he has had his recent surgery (not covid related)! What a worry for you and your family to have to go through — they should definitely have some kind of clinic/school-based centre to get tested quickly!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. It must have been a scary experience when you found out about your son spiking a fever. Even if you suspected tonsilitis, it was a good move to get tested and that the results are released fast. I wish it was like that where I am from. I have heard how it’s so difficult to get tested (plus the expense!) and the results take very long to be released.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I am so glad it worked out and your tests were negative. We had to get my daughter tested earlier in the summer after she was possibly exposed at work. It was a hassle navigating the government site to figure out how to make an appointment and where to go (Looks like Canada isn’t any better than the UK for that). Thankfully, her test was negative too.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Yikes! I’m sorry it was such a palaver. I’m dreading if we ever have to take the boys. They’re still doing virtual school but at the end of September I think they’ll be back in the classroom and across the three schools we attend, there’s 5000+ students so it is a concern. So glad the tests all came back negative for y’all and hope your kiddo is feeling better now.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh I hope they return to school ok. I wasn’t the least surprised that this cold went round pretty much immediately – I think the majority of large boy’s class has got it now. We’re just readjusting our expectations and reactions to how often they’re getting poorly. They’re both fine thanks.


  10. I’m glad that all were negative, and hope that you won’t have to go through that too many times! We had a sick household member at the end of June. Those test results took 11 days. We exiled the patient the entire 11 days and the rest of us quarentined. It was positive.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. It’s interesting the different approaches different schools seem to be taking. A school near us, is sending home kids with any sort of ailment. Whilst our daughters school are taking the approach of, if it looks like a cold and feels like a cold….it’s probably a cold. They’re fine to come in. I’m not completely sure which way I prefer.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. If they were sending all kids home with any sort of cold, there would have been about 5 kids out of 31 in large boy’s class yesterday. That seems rather extreme. I don’t mind the school’s approach but the testing needs to be better.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. I am so glad the news was good. The whole situation is a bit of a nightmare isn’t it. We have even sent children home from school with high temps and coughing and 119 have said they can’t have a test but can return to school!!! Absolute madness.

    I fear this will be ongoing now for our poor children.

    I have done the test and I found the whole experience really unpleasant. Spit testing for ALL would be much more humane!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. So glad it was a negative result for you all. Sounds very movie pandemic thriller esk. Drive to a designated destination, probably met with a team of people in hazmat suits and told to test, the expectation of failing and been carted away to some medical testing facility 🤣 oh I do have a vivid imagination.

    You would think they would have something more suitable for young children, those swabs are huge compared to a child’s nostril.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We were so relieved, the irrational fear was getting to me.

      No hazmat suits, the just had masks and gloves! I was quite surprised they weren’t better protected given they’re more likely than anyone to be coming into contact with infected people.

      Yes only the tip of the swab fitted up small boy’s nose. It was quite ridiculous.


      1. Ah bless him, something like that could damage his poor nose.

        You’d think so wouldn’t you hence the mental image of hazmat suits.

        Its bound to its a scary thought.

        Liked by 1 person

  14. We were sent a test for my 12 year old as part of a survey but I’m reluctant to put her through that! I wouldn’t like it done to me and I’ve given birth 😂 I fear though that with winter coming, it’s all going to go crazy. We’ve already seen the start of it at our school with kids off for testing. Hope I’m wrong

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I think you’re right. The test wasn’t that bad for adults, I’m sure a 12 yr old would cope with doing it on themselves. Also, might come in as good practice as a random test rather than in the stress of needing to do it because of exposure or symptoms. I’m sure this won’t be our last one.

      Liked by 2 people

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