Don’t hand out Covid testing kits to pupils’ families, DfE tells schools

Schools should not distribute Covid testing kits to members of their pupils’ households, the Department for Education has said, following the announcement that families will now also qualify for free twice-weekly tests.

On Sunday, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) announced that households with children of school-age will get free equipment to test themselves at home “to help find more Covid-19 cases and break chains of transmission” as pupils return to school from March 8.

The free rapid-result lateral flow test kits will also be offered to those in pupils’ childcare and support bubbles. The tests are supposed to be available for families to collect from today.

However, in an email update sent to schools leaders today, and seen by Schools Week, the DfE warns that schools “should not give test kits to parents, carers or household members and should not order more test kits for this purpose”. Deliveries of more equipment to aid schools with their back-to-school testing efforts started last week.

Instead, families should access tests via their own employers if they offer staff testing, by attending a local test site, by collecting testing kits from a local site or by ordering them online, the DfE said.

Letters with “advice on where to access testing” will be “made available for schools to share with parents and staff shortly”, the DfE added.

As with the tests for pupils, testing of family members is encouraged, but not mandatory.

levelling up
Secretary of State for Education Gavin Williamson

Those who test positive will require a secondary PCR test to confirm the result.

Twice-weekly home testing kits, which are already being offered to in-school staff, will also be offered to adults working in the wider school community, including bus drivers and after school club leaders, the DfE has confirmed.

Test will provide ‘another layer of reassurance’

Education secretary Gavin Williamson said testing family members of pupils will “provide yet another layer of reassurance to parents and education staff that schools are as safe as possible.”

Yvonne Doyle, medical director at Public Health England, said she 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.”

Schools are set to reopen more widely from March 8 with increased asymptomatic testing measures introduced to facilitate the return.

Secondary schools will be expected to carry out three on-site Covid tests of their pupils within the first fortnight, before switching to home-testing – with pupils allowed to attend lesson after their first negative result.

Meanwhile there will be no testing of primary schools but primary staff will continue with twice-weekly home testing. Staff in secondary schools will also switch to twice-weekly home testing.

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  1. Simon (Essex)

    If my kids school provided me with tests I’d do them, but I’m not going to bother with applying online twice a week for tests, nor driving to another town for tests. I’ll just not bother

  2. I agree with this (Secondary schools will be expected to carry out three on-site Covid tests of their pupils within the first fortnight, before switching to home-testing – with pupils allowed to attend lesson after their first negative result.)
    But definitely disagree with this
    (Meanwhile there will be no testing of primary schools.)
    why not just doo it like the old days all kids in schools a team of nhs two or three depending on size of school go in to the schools with all the kit and get them all tested one week then the next week get them all vaccinated i remember my flu jab back in 90s surly that theory

  3. Maria Davis

    Yes us Parents should. As our Children could bring the Virus from Schools to home. Or from home to Schools. Also as some Parents have health conditions. That make them more vulnerable to catching the Virus. This is why alot of Parents want the Teachers. To have had their 1st & 2nd Vaccine Before returning to School!

  4. Sue west

    I don’t think they should be subjecting school children to lateral flow test,it is unpleasant, why test children when the infection rate is down.
    I have to do a twice weekly test and its unpleasant for me,it makes me ill when I do one

  5. Amber Pinnock

    I think this testing in schools & at home is too much. Our country’s staff, parents & students are overwhelmed by the stress of all this & these new measures will cause further unsettlement across these sectors.
    It’s common sense which most parents have in that, if they or their child/children are I’ll, to do what they’ve always done.
    Stay home – get well with OTC medicines with a view to call their GP if they become worse or symptoms persist longer than usual.

    • Steven Behrend

      What’s wrong with this country?? It has been the slowest to start opening up!! Schools and restaurants and churches are open in the USA. Most states are not doing all the testing we are doing here!! It’s not needed especially in school!! Children should not be wearing masks!! That will do nothing but restrict their breathing!!! Let them have a normal school life!! More testing for them is NOT necessary. This government has gone too far with their totalitarian rule!!!!

    • Asiya King

      Unfortunately people including children may not show symptoms of Covid. Children could be carriers with out displaying symptoms and invariably take it into school and indeed into a classroom. And to be honest, a child learning that they were the source of an outbreak in school is more harmful mentally and emotionally, than actually taking a swab test at home to check that they don’t have covid.

      Why do we always have to be reactive. Why should we wait to be tested until someone displays symptoms? I think parents should have the opportunity to prevent, preempt and protect. I’m all for preventative measures. If you approach the home testing with positivity and confidence rather than doom, gloom, emotional testing worries and cries of infringement of my freedoms, then a child would feel more confident and secure knowing that they’re helping themselves and others to keep safe and protected.

    • Lisa S

      Amber I think the whole point is that many who have the virus are symptomless, so may be spreading it without realising. Testing ensures that symptomless carriers are isolated and won’t spread it further.

  6. Sharon Heys

    I think rapid testing should be done in school but by trained professionals. Army/Navy nurses for instance, they are surely trained in field operations? I think relying on already stressed children, parents and teachers will result in false information and the rules will not be adhered to.

  7. AnthoniaDove

    I am already worried about it, that someone will be putting things in my child’s nose and mouth every week, how on earth can they continue test the children every week, or is there more to this? They have been at home healthy and well. I pray God to watch and protect my children and other children from sickness and infirmity in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen
    I guess the normal protocol is the best, face mask, hand wash and social distancing

  8. John Zayya

    I always wonder that when untrained people are testing or told to test themselves they are not doing them properly. With a throat swab you need to hit the 5 points at the back of the throat and both throat and nasal tests need to have enough sample to test. Then they need to mix the sample with the buffer agent and really squeeze the tube to get enough of the mix to test. I’ve seen enough NHS staff who do not seem to follow the process thoroughly. Repetition leads to complacency sometimes and as we are trying to get the sheep through quickly we are making mistakes. Touching the tongue with the swab may contaminate the whole test and how many throat tests touch the tongue, 50-70%??

  9. I understand what you say about added stress
    However to get back to a regular routine and life itself we have to get used to the new way.
    It takes 2 mins and Is painless.
    You soon get used to it, just becomes part of the routine.
    Yes parents have common sense and would stay home when showing signs but that’s why they are testing because a high percentage of people don’t show symptoms or are extremely mild could be literally any small symptom and don’t think anything of it and pass on to others.

  10. So we most likely now have to further increase our social contact to get tests for our kids each week!? Well, I knew that the government would scr*w things up again somehow…

  11. Deborah Couzens

    I dont agree with all this testing on the kids you dont see work places testing 3 times and at home it’s to much and ask for wearing a mask in class all day is disgusting yeah I agree if your walking round the school it’s going bit too far the secondary school should have the injection if that’s the case

  12. Margaret

    I personally believe that this is a fantastic way forward. And is another safety net.
    However I do believe that Primary children should also be tested to ensure a safe environment for the whole school keeping everyone in a safe environment.

    Maybe then the children would have a more happier School environment as at the moment they are all under immense stress mentally and physically as their little life’s are so restricted at School. Which is a necessity at this time. To keep the Teachers, Children and Staff safe.

    However I know everyone thinks children are better at School. But how can this be they can’t move around with friends, they can’t play any games, they can’t play on equipment. They should be home schooled online, this way they don’t see how bad a situation the world is actually in, and they are safe at home shielding the, from what is happening around.

    Very sad and worrying times, hopefully one day when and only when it is safe things can slowly and safely get back to some normality.

  13. Soose

    So now we’re supposed to queue along with thousands of other parents to try and get tests each week. Possibly a twice weekly exercise. Seriously, I can’t imagine all parents doing this, it’s going to be a nightmare.