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Need-to-know: Tests now available for school staff who are self-isolating
From 24 April, school staff who have symptoms of COVID-19 or are self-isolating can book antigen tests for themselves and their household.
The government has now expanded testing for essential workers to include education and childcare workers. These include:
- Support and teaching staff
- Social workers
- Specialist education professionals
You can refer yourself and members of your household if you're self-isolating because you're:
- Displaying symptoms of COVID-19
- Living with someone who has symptoms
Note that these are antigen tests, which determine if you currently have the virus. Antibody tests - which determine if you've been exposed to the virus in the past and might now be immune - aren't available through this service.
What the test means for you
The test will confirm whether your symptoms are, in fact, COVID-19. This means that if you test negative, you can avoid unnecessary self-isolation periods (currently, anyone displaying symptoms or living with someone displaying symptoms must self-isolate for 7 or 14 days, respectively).
If your test is negative, you can return to work as long as:
- You're well enough
- You've not had a high temperature for 48 hours
- Everyone in your household has also tested negative
If your test is positive, you and your household will have to continue to self-isolate.
When to get tested
You should be tested within the first 3 days of showing symptoms, though testing is considered effective up to the 5th day. You shouldn't be tested if you've been showing symptoms for more than 5 days unless agreed on a case-by-case basis by medical professionals.
How to get tested
- You can self-refer by arranging a test directly through the website
- Your employer can refer you
Where to get tested
When you request testing, you'll get 2 options:
- Regional testing sites - a network of drive-throughs is currently being created (the government hopes to have 50 sites in England by the end of April). You should receive your results within 48 hours after taking the test
- Home test kits - you can request up to 5 for your household, which will be delivered to you. Please note that there's currently limited availability for these, but this'll increase over the coming weeks. You should receive your results within 72 hours of the courier collecting the test from you
Registering for a test is a multi-step process. You can read more in the NHS self-referral portal guide.
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