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

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The following people in England have access regular rapid lateral flow testing:

  • 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 nursery-age children, primary and secondary-school age children, and college students
  • anyone who works in a related occupation

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

Find out about childcare bubbles and support bubbles.

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

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.

Secondary school pupils and college students

Pupils and students should take 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 calling 119.

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

If youre a member of a household, childcare bubble of an early years child, 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 or pharmacy
  • 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 or pharmacy. Each pack contains 7 tests.

Anyone 18 or over can collect.

Most collection points are open from 2.30pm to 8pm. 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 local pharmacy and what their opening hours are.

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.

International arrivals

You can also use this service if youre an international arrival whos been told to get a test because youre exempt from quarantine.

Your work qualifies as an occupation related to a school, college, nursery or early-years childcare provider if it puts you in close contact or helps support the return of children and staff to school.

You also qualify if you work for an organisation (like an agency) that puts you into close contact with returning school staff and students, for example:

  • school bus or coach drivers, and other public transport bus drivers
  • Special Educational Needs (SEND) school transport drivers or assistants
  • childminders
  • wraparound childcare staff
  • childcare staff in an open residential homes
  • childcare providers
  • foster carers

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

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

Report your test result online or by calling 119.

If your lateral flow test result is positive

You must self-isolate immediately. You could be fined if you do not do this.

If anyone tests positive or gets coronavirus symptoms, they should:

PCR test

If you do not take a PCR test within 2 days of testing positive, you and your contacts may need to isolate for the full 10 days whatever the follow-up result.

If you take the PCR test within 2 days of the lateral flow test and receive a negative result, you and your household can stop self-isolating. However, you and your household must continue to self-isolate if:

  • this PCR test result is positive
  • you choose not to take a follow-up PCR test
  • you receive a negative PCR test result but the test was taken more than 2 days after the lateral flow test

Financial support if you test positive

You may be entitled to a one-off payment of 500 through the NHS Test and Trace Support Payment scheme if you are required to self-isolate.

If your lateral flow test is negative

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

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.

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