Whole families and households with primary school, secondary school and college-age children, including childcare and support bubbles, will be able to get a COVID-19 test twice every week at home as schools return from 8 March.
“Tests can easily be ordered and collected from local sites, or administered through workplace testing programmes,” said the government.
- Regular, rapid testing will be offered to households, childcare and support bubbles of primary, secondary and college age children and young people
- In line with the government’s roadmap, the latest expansion of asymptomatic testing will support the national priority to get children back to school
- Rapid test kits will be available to collect from more than 500 locations, or through workplace testing and local community testing services
Secondary and college students
As laid out in the government’s roadmap, secondary school and college students will now be tested twice a week, receiving three initial tests at school or college before transitioning to twice weekly home testing.
Primary School Children
Primary school children will not be regularly asymptomatically tested due to low levels of transmission between younger aged children but will continue to need to come forward for tests if they have symptoms.
Households with school children
The government has confirmed twice-weekly testing using rapid lateral flow tests will be given for free to all families and households with primary, secondary school and college-aged children and young people, including childcare and support bubbles, to help find more Covid-19 cases and break chains of transmission.
“Testing family members will provide yet another layer of reassurance to parents and education staff that schools are as safe as possible, building on the massive increase in testing for secondary school and college students, and strengthened requirements around face coverings in areas where social distancing cannot be maintained,” said Education Secretary Gavin Williamson.
Childcare and support bubbles will not be forgotten. “Regular testing of households and childcare support bubbles of primary and secondary school children is another tool we are making available to help keep schools safe,” said Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock.
“We know that one in three people with Covid-19 don’t have any symptoms, so targeted, regular testing will mean more positive cases are kept out of schools and colleges,” he said.
Workers in the wider school community
Twice-weekly testing will also be offered to adults working in the wider school community, including bus drivers and after school club leaders.
With about a third of individuals with coronavirus showing no symptoms and potentially spreading it without knowing, targeted, regular testing will mean more positive cases within households are found and prevented from entering schools and colleges, helping to keep educational settings safe, said the government in a statement online.
Professor Yvonne Doyle, Medical Director at Public Health England, said, “These rapid tests help uncover hidden cases of the virus and break chains of transmission, stopping outbreaks before they occur. Combined with other protective measures, they are a vital tool to help us lower infection rates and ensure that they stay low.”
How quick are rapid testing results?
Rapid testing detects cases quickly – in under 30 minutes – meaning positive cases can isolate immediately. This can be the difference between children being able to stay in school, or a class being sent home due to an outbreak. It could also be the difference between a workplace having to close for a period, or being able to stay open and running.
“By everyone playing their part and getting tested regularly, vital public services, workplaces and educational settings can stay open and running, and we can move closer to a more normal way of life,” said Hancock.
No symptoms but want to take a test?
Getting a rapid test is quick, convenient and free. The expanded regular testing offer for people without symptoms will be delivered through:
- testing in-person via workplace testing
- at local authority test sites
- through a new ordering service, which once launched on 1 March will allow people to order lateral flow tests online for collection at a local PCR test site during specific test collection time windows
The expansion of asymptomatic testing is already well underway for those who need to leave home for work. Workplace testing has already scaled up, with both private and public sector employers signed up to provide rapid testing at asymptomatic testing sites, along with a self-test option for those that cannot access a workplace testing site. This includes the UK’s largest employer – the NHS, adult social care, education staff and a wide range of other sectors.
All local authorities in England have now enrolled in the community testing programme. As a partnership between national and local government, community testing offers asymptomatic testing for local public services, small businesses, self-employed people and communities that have been disproportionately affected by the virus.
I have symptoms, where do I get a test?
Anyone with symptoms of Covid-19 should book a testonline or by calling 119.