Rapid Antigen Home Tests trialled to reduce disruption to schools

Rapid antigen home tests are being trialed by the State Government to reduce disruption to schools affected by positive Covid-19 cases. Photo: Emma Darbin.


RAPID antigen home tests may soon be available to stop disruption in schools from positive COVID-19 cases, with a trial currently underway in Albury.

The NSW Government is trialling the Rapid Antigen Home Testing (RAHT) kits to reduce disruption at schools and halve the time close contacts of Covid-19 positive cases in schools need to isolate.

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Woolgoolga Public School and Orara High School were both forced to close last week due to positive Covid-19 cases in the school communities, and those notified as close contacts at Woolgoolga Public School have been isolating for 14 days.

NSW Minister for Education and Early Childhood Learning Sarah Mitchell revealed on Friday 29 October that a pilot program of the home test kits would begin in Albury this week.

“I want to see disruption to our students’ education from COVID reduce, while still keeping schools safe places to learn,” Ms Mitchell said.

“This requires us to deploy every tool available to balance the risk.

“We will be trialling the tests in two ways: a broad surveillance approach, along with close contact testing to reduce initial positive cases on school sites and reduce the amount of time close contact students need to spend away from school.”

The surveillance method will see the kits distributed by schools for use at home by staff and students who are asked to do a test twice a week as part of community surveillance.

“People with a positive result would need to follow up with a regular (PCR) test at a NSW Health testing centre and those who test negative will go on with their normal day-to-day routines assured that they are not infected or at risk of spreading the virus,” Ms Mitchell said.

Unvaccinated students who are close contacts of a positive case will also be able to reduce their isolation time by using the kits on a daily basis.

“NSW Health has advised us that close contacts of COVID positive cases will have their isolation period halved to seven days provided they receive a consistent negative result,” Ms Mitchell said.

“This is about living with a virus and getting back to normal life while ensuring the community is confident in their safety on school sites.

“Our best line of defence against this pandemic remains vaccinations, and until all students are eligible for one we must continue using measures like RAHT kits to keep schools safe.”

A positive rapid antigen test doesn’t mean an individual necessarily has COVID-19, it means they need to get a standard (PCR) test straight away at a NSW Health testing centre to confirm the result.

Use of the RAHT kits will be optional, however close contacts of positive Covid-19 cases who opt not to undertake the daily home tests will need to self-isolate for the full 14 days.



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