How parents and carers can get a free rapid lateral flow test
A vital part of the government's roadmap out of Covid restrictions is regular rapid testing so that any cases of Covid-19 can be found quickly and kept under control.
As part of this plan, the households and bubbles of nursery children, primary and secondary-school children will be tested regularly for coronavirus by being offered free rapid lateral flow testing.
Who will be tested?
- Secondary school and college students who are asymptomatic will be tested twice a week.
- Members of nursery and primary school children's households are being offered free twice-weekly tests using rapid lateral flow tests - including tests for people in childcare and support bubbles.
Nursery children and primary school children who are asymptomatic will NOT be tested regularly due to low levels of transmission between younger age children.
Even though nursery and primary school children are not being tested, they will need to be tested of course if they show any symptoms of Covid-19.
Where do I get the lateral flow tests from?
If you’re a member of a household, childcare bubble or support bubble of staff or a pupil you can get a twice-weekly test:
1. Through your employer if they offer testing to employees - contact your employer to find out.
2. At a local test site - testing at these sites is assisted, which means you will swab yourself under the supervision of a trained operator. You may need to book an appointment.
3. By collecting a home test kit from a test site.
You can collect two packs of home test kits at a local collection point. Each pack contains seven tests.
Anyone 18 or over can collect. You can check online if the location is busy before you go.
4. By ordering a home test kit online
If you cannot get tested at your workplace, or are unable to go to a test site or collect test kits, you can order a home test kit online.
Do not order online if you can get a test through other methods. This frees up home delivery for those who need it most.
What does twice-weekly testing involve?
You will be asked to:
- take a test twice a week (every 3 or 4 days apart)
- report every result to NHS Test and Trace on the same day you take the test
Report your test result online or by calling 119.
If anyone tests positive or gets coronavirus symptoms, they should tell the school and:
- self-isolate immediately
- get a PCR test to confirm the result
- follow the stay at home guidance for households with possible coronavirus infection
A negative result means the test did not find signs of coronavirus. But this does not guarantee you do not have coronavirus, so you should keep following all coronavirus advice including handwashing, social distancing and wearing a face covering where recommended.
How long does it take to get the result?
It only takes 30 minutes to get a result from the test.
When should I start doing the tests?
Tests are available now.
Do I have to do the tests?
Taking part in testing is strongly encouraged but is not mandatory.
Families are being offered tests to help find more cases of Covid-19 and to try and break any chains of transmission.
About a third of people with coronavirus show no symptoms and potentially spread it without knowing.
So the government is keen that households take part in targeted, regular testing so that more positive cases within households are found and stopped from entering nurseries, schools and colleges, helping to keep places of education safe.
Rapid testing detects cases quickly meaning anyone who test positive for Covid 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.
Note: If you or a member of your family shows any symptoms of coronavirus they should stay home and book a test online here.
Government guidance - Regular Coronavirus testing if you have no symptoms