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24 May 2022

Explainer: How does the Covid-19 antigen test system work in primary schools

Antigen test available to primary school children from today

Antigen test available to primary school children from today

Free antigen tests being available to all primary school children so how does it work?

Parents and guardians are being advised to contact the principal of their child's school immediately if they receive a positive Covid-19 test result for their child.

The principal must then contact the parents of the other children in the 'pod', to give details on how they can order free antigen tests using a freephone number. The principal has also been asked not to not to share any personal information about any child.

The test will then be done in the child's home with a positive or negative result coming in 15 minutes, but advice from the Department of Education stressed that children who are already experiencing symptoms such as a new cough, shortness of breath, high temperature or sore throat should not use an antigen test but should isolate at home and have a PCR test booked.

In a letter from the Department of Education to parents, it explained that if just one classroom pod is involved, only the children within that pod will be offered the antigen tests. 

However, if there are two pods with separate confirmed cases, parent and guardians of all children in the classroom will be contacted and provided with information on how to request the free tests.

A child's name, home address and their school's roll number will have to be provided when ordering the tests with a first test carried out immediately followed by a second one two days later, and a third two days after that.

The letter, that was sent to parents last week, reminded parents that participation in the testing is voluntary, and they do not have to share any information with the school adding that SNAs or teachers working closely with children in a pod or classroom where there is a confirmed case, may also avail of the free tests.

The letter also states that staff should continue to attend unless they are symptomatic or receive a detected result in the antigen test.

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