Last reviewed 25 February 2021

The Department for Education (DfE) has confirmed that Covid home testing kits will be provided to all private, voluntary and independent (PVI) nurseries and pre-schools in England from 22 March.

Early years staff will be supplied with lateral flow device (LFD) test kits to self-swab twice a week, with test results provided in 30 minutes. Testing will help to identify positive cases, particularly those who may have the virus and do not have symptoms.

Until now only maintained nurseries and early years settings linked to schools have had access to home asymptomatic lateral flow testing. All other private and voluntary settings were advised to access priority testing at community test centres.

However, the Department for Education (DfE) has yet to confirm details of any planned rollout of home testing kits for registered childminders, who currently have been advised to continue using community testing centres.

Purnima Tanuku OBE, Chief Executive of the National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA) said:

“There are two crucial pillars to keeping staff and children as safe as possible in early years settings, mass rapid testing and vaccination of critical workers. The announcement that all staff in PVI nurseries and pre-school settings will have the same access to testing as schools is fantastic news for the sector.”

“We have worked hard alongside our members to ensure the practical and logistical challenges are overcome. We hope that soon childminders will also be able to access the testing kits. Early years staff have been desperately waiting for this support since the scheme for schools was announced in December.”

“We hope that the roll-out of this plan can happen as soon as possible so early years workers can test at home before setting off to work, limiting the spread of the virus. The next stage has to be the question of vaccination for staff because that is how we can ensure they are as safe as possible and minimise the disruption of care and education for our youngest children.”

Following the Prime Minister’s announcement on the easing of lockdown restrictions, the DfE has also confirmed that wraparound childcare for all pupils can resume from Monday 8 March when schools reopen to enable parents to access work, education or medical care. From 29 March, parent and child groups will be able to take place outdoors with a limit of 15 attendees (children under five years of age do not count towards the attendee limit). Indoor parent and child groups (with a limit of up to 15 people, not including children under five) will not be able to resume until 12 April at the earliest.