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Testing for households with school age children
Whole families and households with primary school, secondary school and college age children, including childcare and support bubbles, are now able to test themselves twice every week from home.
Testing will continue to be a vital part of our response to Covid-19, supporting the roadmap set out by the Prime Minister. As we cautiously ease restrictions in England, starting with the return of schools and moving towards more social mixing at the end of March, we need to be sure that each Covid-19 case is found as quickly and as easily as possible. Although cases are declining, everyone needs to play their part to keep the virus under control while keeping children and young people in school.
As set out in the roadmap, secondary school and college students will now be tested twice a week, receiving three initial tests at school or college before moving to twice-weekly home testing. Primary school children will not be regularly asymptomatically tested due to low levels of transmission between younger children but will still need to get tested if they have symptoms.
In addition to this, 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.
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.
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.
Jonathan Gribbin, Director of Public Health at Nottinghamshire County Council said: “Getting tested regularly, twice a week, will help us to identify cases early and break the chain of transmission. Each positive case identified can help prevent additional people from becoming infected over time.
“Regular testing will help to find cases that would otherwise have gone undetected. Testing, alongside staying at home, following the Hands, Face, Space rules, getting a test if you have symptoms and self-isolating if your test is positive all remain critical to keep reducing the rate of infection and protect each other.
“I would strongly encourage everyone to take advantage of the testing facilities that are now widely available across the county.”
Getting a rapid test is quick and convenient. The expanded regular testing offer for people without symptoms will be delivered through:
- testing in-person through workplace testing
- local community testing sites Asymptomatic Community Testing for Covid-19 | Nottinghamshire County Council (Opens in a new window)
- collection of home test kits at a local test site during specific test collection time windows
- a new home ordering service, which will allow people to order lateral flow tests online to be delivered to their home gov.uk/order-coronavirus-rapid-lateral-flow-tests (Opens in a new window)
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.
Testing in education settings is now well established, with 600,000 tests done at universities since last year and more than three million rapid Covid-19 tests conducted in schools and colleges in England since 4 January, including tests for those students who have already returned and regular testing for all staff.
Rapid, regular testing for new groups is one of a range of new measures designed to minimise the spread of Covid-19 and support the successful return of more learners to face-to-face education and childcare settings. Testing is an additional tool, working in conjunction with other protective measures that are in place in schools to help protect staff and students including social distancing, handwashing and face covering. Schools and colleges will not be expected to provide the test kits to families or administer the family testing process.
Anyone with symptoms of Covid-19 should book a test online at www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test (Opens in a new window) or by calling 119.