Families of schoolchildren in England offered rapid Covid tests twice-weekly

Increased testing is part of the government’s plan to reopen schools on March 8

Families of pupils in England will be able to access rapid Covid-19 tests twice a week free of charge as part of plans to safely reopen schools on March 8.

The lateral flow tests, which give results within half an hour, will be available to the households, childcare and support bubbles of all primary and secondary school pupils and staff.

Those who work in the wider school community, such as bus drivers, will also be offered the tests.

Secondary school pupils will take a test twice a week. The first three will be taken at their place of study and thereafter through home-testing kits.

UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock said about one in three people with the virus did not have symptoms but could still pass it to others.

“Regular testing of households and childcare support bubbles of primary and secondary schoolchildren is another tool we are making available to help keep schools safe,” he said.

“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."

UK Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said reopening schools for children would "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,” he said.

The government announced a plan to slowly bring England out of a nationwide lockdown, starting with the reopening of schools from March 8.

More than 20 million people in the UK have received at least one dose of Covid-19 vaccine, or about 29 out of 100 people.

But the country also has one of the highest death rates in the world, with more than 122,000 people having died from the disease.

Updated: February 28, 2021 06:55 PM

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