Detailed guide: Households and bubbles of pupils, students and staff of schools, nurseries and colleges: get rapid lateral flow tests

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About 1 in 3 people with coronavirus do not have symptoms but can still pass it on to others. Regular testing of people without symptoms is important to help stop the virus spreading and protect your loved ones. As lockdown restrictions gradually ease we all need to play our part to help protect each other.

The following people in England will have access to regular rapid lateral flow testing made available to them:

  • secondary school pupils and college students
  • staff of primary and secondary schools, nurseries and colleges
  • households, childcare and support bubbles of nursery children, primary and secondary-age pupils and college students
  • households, childcare and support bubbles of staff of nurseries, primary and secondary schools, and colleges

Children of primary school age or younger will not be asked to test at this time.

Find out about childcare bubbles and support bubbles.

Learn what rapid lateral flow testing is and why its being used.

If you have coronavirus symptoms

The most important symptoms of COVID-19 are recent onset of any of the following:

  • a new continuous cough
  • a high temperature
  • a loss of, or change in, your normal sense of taste or smell (anosmia)

If you have symptoms of COVID-19, arrange to have a PCR test if you have not already had one. Stay at home while you are waiting for a home self-sampling kit, a test site appointment or a test result. Do not use the rapid lateral flow testing service as this is only for people without symptoms.

Order a test for people with symptoms online or call 119.

How to get a rapid lateral flow test

There are different ways to get a test for pupils, students and staff of nurseries, schools and colleges, and members of their households, childcare and support bubbles in England who do not have symptoms of coronavirus.

Secondary school pupils and college students

Upon returning to school or college, pupils and students will be asked to take their:

  • first 3 tests at their place of study under the supervision of a trained operator
  • fourth test themselves using a home test kit

Pupils and students will then continue taking twice-weekly tests using a home test kit provided by their school or college. They should report all results 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.

Staff of primary or secondary schools, nurseries and colleges

Teaching and non-teaching staff working in schools, nurseries and colleges should take twice-weekly tests using a home test kit provided by their school, nursery or college. This includes permanent, temporary and voluntary staff.

Staff should contact their school, nursery or college for further details.

Members of households, childcare or support bubbles of pupils, students and staff of schools, nurseries and colleges

This section does not apply to:

  • secondary school pupils
  • college students
  • staff of schools, nurseries or colleges

Take twice-weekly tests using home test kits provided by your school, nursery or college if youre one of these pupils, students or staff.

If youre a member of a household, childcare bubble of a pupil, student or staff of a school, nursery or college, you can get a twice-weekly test:

  • through your employer if they offer testing to employees
  • at a local test site
  • by collecting a home test kit from a test site
  • by ordering a home test kit online

Get a test through your employer

Your workplace may offer rapid lateral flow testing to you. Contact your employer to find out more.

Take a test at a rapid lateral flow test site

You can take a rapid lateral flow test at a local 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.

Find your nearest rapid lateral flow test site.

Collect test kits

You can collect 2 packs of home test kits at a local collection point. Each pack contains 7 tests.

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.

Do not visit a collection point outside opening hours, as it may be used to test people with coronavirus symptoms outside these times.

Find your nearest home test kit collection point.

Order home test kits online

You can order 1 pack of home test kits containing 7 tests for home delivery. Your tests should arrive within 2 days.

What twice-weekly testing involves

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:

Pupils, students and staff should also tell their school or college if they test positive.

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:


  • regular handwashing
  • social distancing
  • wearing a face covering where recommended

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