The families of pupils in school and college will be offered free rapid testing kits for coronavirus twice a week from 1 March ahead of the planned reopening of educational institutions from 8 March. Testing kits will be provided to anyone in a pupil’s household, childcare or support bubble, as stated by the government.
In addition to these groups, tests will also be offered to any adults who work with children, such as bus drivers or after-school club leaders as well as nursery staff. The testing kits will be made available regardless of any presence of symptoms in households.
According to the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), tests will be available in person through in-workplace testing, at local authority testing sites or through an online ordering service that will allow people to collect testing kits.
Lateral flow tests will be given to pupils twice a week– they will receive an initial three tests at their school or college, with further testing to be carried out at home after this. Those who test positive will need to take a secondary PCR test to verify the results of their home test.
Testing will be encouraged, but not mandatory, and students from year one upwards will be able to take a test. The DHSC has said that families of college-aged teenagers who are not currently studying are not included in these plans.
The Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has said that the measure ‘will provide yet another layer of reassurance to parents and education staff that schools are as safe as possible’. The Health Secretary Matt Hancock added: ‘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’.