Free antigen tests system for school children to be rolled out from today

Tests available by post if a positive case of Covid-19 in their pod

Parents can order free antigen tests for their children if they are notified of a Covid-19 positive case within their child’s ‘pod’ in school from today.

The Department of Education and the HSE, working in collaboration with the Department of Health, have developed a programme in which antigen tests will be made available to the children in a primary school, where a child in the pod has had a PCR test that detected Covid-19.

Where two or more confirmed cases of COVID-19 occur in a class, within a seven-day period, outside of a single pod, antigen testing will be offered to the full class.

From today, parents or guardians are asked to contact their child’s school principal immediately if they receive a Covid-19 positive PCR test result for their child.


The principal will then contact the parents of other children in their child’s ‘pod’ and provide details of how to order free antigen tests via a Freephone number. The principal has been requested not to share any personal information relating to any child.

The tests will be done at home with results coming in 15 minutes.

When a parent receives a ‘detected’/positive PCR Covid-19 test result on their child, they should notify the school principal immediately.

The school principal will inform the parents of the children in the case’s pod that they are close contacts of a confirmed Covid-19 case. The name of the case or any other details will not be shared.


The children in the pod can continue to attend school as long as they remain asymptomatic and their antigen test results remain not detected.

If a child’s antigen test indicates a positive result, the child isolates at home and the child’s parent/guardian logs onto the HSE to request a PCR test. The antigen test distribution company will record the numbers of antigen tests distributed, batch numbers and the names of the relevant schools.

The Department of Education said it is not mandatory for children to participate in antigen testing. Children who are in a pod where a child has tested positive for COVID-19 can continue to attend school, whether they participate in antigen testing or not, provided that they are not experiencing symptoms of COVID-19.

If a child displays any symptoms of COVID-19 they should self-isolate immediately and a parent or guardian should arrange a PCR test.

Minister for Education Norma Foley has also said that schools experiencing difficulty with ventilation should contact her department for technical advice. Mre than 35,000 CO2 monitors have been installed in schools throughout the country, and that natural ventilation was the best possible source.

Schools with additional difficulties could contact engineers or architects or make use of a technical advice team in the department, she said.