Testing extended to households and bubbles of nursery children and staff
By Rachel Lawler
The government has updated its guidance on asymptomatic testing, allowing households and bubbles of children and staff at nurseries and preschools to access regular asymptomatic home test kits.
This scheme was initially only made available to children and staff attending schools and colleges, but will now be extended to include early years settings.
Anyone who is a member of a household or childcare bubble of a child or staff member at a nursery can get a twice-weekly test:
- through their 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
It is not yet clear whether the scheme will be extended to include childminders - the Alliance is urgently seeking clarity on this from the Department for Education.
It is important to note that the Lateral Flow Devices used in the asymptomatic testing scheme should not be used by those experiencing symptoms of Covid-19. Anyone experiencing symptoms should access a PCR test through the NHS Test and Trace scheme.
This latest update follows shortly after the long awaited roll-out of home asymptomatic testing for early years providers, who this week began to receive home test kits for staff for the first time.
"A welcome step"
Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Alliance, commented: "The extension of testing to the households and bubbles of children attending nurseries or pre-schools is another welcome step towards keeping early years settings open, and as safe as can be for staff, children and their respective households.
"Since asking early years providers to remain open to all families during the second and third waves of this virus, government has repeatedly stressed the vital importance of keeping childcare settings open. For childminders, this means welcoming children from other families into their own homes.
"Childminders provide the same vital care and early education to young children as nurseries, pre-schools and reception settings. With every household and childcare bubble of every child attending a school, nursery or pre-school now included in the asymptomatic home testing rollout, the government must urgently confirm not just that childminders will be provided with home test kits, but also exactly when and how they will be able to access them."