Free Covid tests for all pupils' families under plans to reopen schools
Free tests will be provided to pupils' households, as well as those in their childcare or support bubbles, regardless of whether anyone has symptoms, the Government said today. (February 28)
The rapid tests will be ordered and collected from local sites or administered through workplace testing programmes, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said.
Secondary and college pupils will be tested with lateral flow tests twice a week, receiving three initial tests at school before they start taking them at home.
Families with college-aged teenagers who are not studying are not included in the plans, the DHSC said.
The twice-weekly tests will also be offered to adults working with schools, such as bus drivers and after school club leaders.
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said: “We are getting all children back in the classroom from March 8, because it will bring huge benefits to their education and well-being, and is a hugely important step in helping them recover from the impact of the pandemic.
“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.”
Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said: “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. 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.
“As we continue to roll out the vaccine, testing offers us a way forward. Sustained and repeated testing for people without symptoms has a critical role to play as sections of society are reopened by driving down transmission rates.
“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.”
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. I would encourage all eligible households to take up the offer of twice weekly rapid testing – it’s quick and painless and could help save lives.”
The tests will be available from March 1.