Covid testing in schools: frequently asked questions

Why are you testing people in school?

About one in three people with coronavirus do not have symptoms but can still pass it on, this is sometimes referred to as being asymptomatic. Regular testing of people without symptoms is important to help stop the virus spreading.

Who is being testing and when?

As schools re-open these people will have access to lateral flow testing:

  • Secondary school pupils
  • All school staff
  • Households, childcare and support bubbles of primary and secondary pupils
  • Households, childcare and support bubbles of all school staff.

Primary school pupils are not being asked to be tested.

Should you have a lateral flow tests if you have symptoms?

If you have coronavirus symptoms you should have a PCR test.

How do secondary school pupils have the tests?

Testing is arranged through their school. On returning to school, secondary school pupils will be offered three tests approximately three to five days apart. This will happen at school and will be supervised by trained staff.

Secondary school pupils will then continue taking twice-weekly tests using a home test kit provided by their school. Pupils must report their result to NHS Test and Trace as soon as the test is completed, either online or by telephone, as set out in the home test kit instructions.

Do pupils have to be tested?

Testing is voluntary and consent will be obtained by their school. If pupils don’t want to get tested they will still be able to go to school but it’s hoped they will take up the offer.

What tests will teachers and school staff have?

All primary and secondary school staff are offered twice-weekly tests using a home test kit provided by their school. This includes permanent, temporary and voluntary school staff.

How will the family members living in the same household as pupils or teachers get tested?

From 1 March 2021, 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:

Where can household (or support bubble) members of pupils or teachers collect test kits from?

You can collect four boxes of seven home test kits at a local collection point. Anyone 18 or over can collect.

Most collection points are open from 1.30pm to 7pm. You can check online if the location is open or busy before you go. You do not need to make an appointment.

Find your nearest home test kit collection point.

How do household members of pupils or teachers order home test kits for lateral flow testing?

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. Order rapid lateral flow home test kits

Please 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 if we test positive?

If anyone tests positive or gets coronavirus symptoms, they should tell the school and:

Do I take a test if I have already had Covid-19?

Anyone who has previously received a positive PCR test result should not be re-tested within 90 days of that test, unless they develop any new Covid symptoms.

If, however, you do have an antigen lateral flow test within 90 days of a previous positive PCR test, for example as part of a workplace or community testing programme, and the result of this test is positive, you and your household should self-isolate for ten days again.

You should not get an lateral flow test while you are still in a ten-day isolation period having already tested positive.

If it is more than 90 days since you tested positive by PCR for Covid-19, and you have new Covid symptoms you should get a PCR test.

Do I have to get a confirmatory PCR?

A confirmatory PCR test is required after a positive result from a lateral flow test taken at home only. Following a positive home test, a confirmatory PCR test should be booked online or by calling 119. Whilst awaiting the PCR result, you and your close contacts should self-isolate.

You do not need a confirmatory PCR test after a positive (or negative) result from a rapid LFD test done at a community testing site or at school.