Are Covid-19 lateral flow tests compulsory in schools?

8 March 2021, 15:50

Covid-19 lateral flow tests are advised for all students going back to school
Covid-19 lateral flow tests are advised for all students going back to school. Picture: PA

By Zoe Adams

Primary and secondary schools have reopened following the third coronavirus lockdown with Covid-19 home tests for schools a big part of the plan - so what are the rules for lateral flow tests?

Schools across England have allowed pupils back to the classroom after they were closed under the third national lockdown coronavirus restrictions.

As part of the roadmap out of lockdown, getting students back into education was the first priority and in order to do so, rapid lateral flow tests were made a key part of the plan to keep everyone safe.

Face masks in secondary schools were also introduced, for when the two meter social distancing rule couldn’t be followed, as the government keep track of the coronavirus rates at all times.

Related article: When will the coronavirus lockdown come to an end?

Related article: Will schools open in the summer holidays 2021?

So, are Covid-19 lateral flow tests compulsory in schools? How will the testing programme actually work with students? And what should you do if your child tests positive?

Primary and secondary schools returned to the classroom on 8th March
Primary and secondary schools returned to the classroom on 8th March. Picture: PA

Are Covid-19 lateral flow tests compulsory in schools?

As schools return, an in-depth testing system has been introduced for primary and secondary schools and while they are not mandatory, they are strongly encouraged.

The government’s idea is to break the chain of transmission early as a third of individuals continue to show no coronavirus symptoms.

Lateral flow tests can give results in under 30 minutes meaning an individual can isolate immediately if they test positive.

How will the Covid testing in schools work?

As of now, twice-weekly rapid lateral flow tests will be given to families, households and those in social and childcare bubbles with children to help identify Covid cases quickly.

As stated in the roadmap out of lockdown, secondary schools and college students will be tested twice a week onsite at school before moving over to twice weekly home tests.

As primary school pupils are less likely to catch Covid, they will not be tested but those around them, including their teachers, will be encouraged to take two lateral flow tests a week also.

Schools have introduced plenty of measures to stay safe during the coronavirus pandemic
Schools have introduced plenty of measures to stay safe during the coronavirus pandemic. Picture: PA

What should you do if your child tests positive?

If a student or teacher tests positive, they must begin the 10-day isolation period immediately.

Their school should be notified and then a PCR lab test should also be booked. The infected individual will also be required to complete two more lateral flow tests at home with each test being done three to five days apart.