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How to get a free Rapid COVID test

Guidance for parents of school children

Children and young people attending school or college from year 7 upwards are being asked by the Government to test regularly for Covid.

It’s recommended that all adults who live with children attending school, including those in year 6 and below, also test regularly. You should test even if you work from home or have been vaccinated.

The virus spreads secretly – some people get symptoms, but as many as 1 in 3 don’t. They feel fine but can still pass the deadly virus on to others, even after being vaccinated.

The risk of this happening is increased by the reopening of schools.

By testing twice a week, even though you feel fine, you’ll be helping to fight Covid and protect your family. You’ll also be helping to make the lifting of further lockdown restrictions more likely.

Testing is free, fast and safe. Tests contain no animal products.

Testing should be used to protect your family alongside other Covid control measures - following all lockdown restrictions, wearing a face covering, following social distancing rules and washing hands often.

It’s vital you continue to observe these even when testing negative.

Who should test and how?

Pre-school and primary aged pupils

Do not need to be regularly tested. Public Health England advise there are limited benefits to testing primary pupils and they may find the testing process unpleasant and difficult.

Adults in their household and any children in year 7 and above are advised to test twice weekly – see below.

Secondary school pupils and college students (year 7 and above)

On returning to school, pupils will be asked to take 3 tests at their place of study under the supervision of a trained operator and take a fourth test themselves using a home test kit.

Pupils will then continue taking twice-weekly tests, with 3 or 4 days between each test, using home test kits. Kits will either be provided by the school or can be collected from a local test site.

If neither of these options is possible, kits can be sent out in the post. Pupils must report their result to NHS Test and Trace as soon as the test is completed, either online or by telephone, as set out in the home test kit instructions.

Up to 14 kits at a time can be collected from some local test centres. The person collecting must be over 18.

There are three sites in Harrow offer collections - at Northholt Road Community Hall car park, Harrow Weald Recreation ground and Kenton Recreation ground.

If more convenient, you can collect from a neighbouring borough – there are sites at Northwick Park, in Edgware and Hendon.

Find your nearest centre on our map.

This map also shows busy times and opening hours. Most sites are open for kit collection between 1.30 and 7pm.

Please do not come to collect kits outside of the hours shown, as these sites also operate as test centres for people with coronavirus symptoms.

If you are unable to collect home test kits in person, they can be requested by post, but this service should only be used where no alternative is possible.

Order home test kits.

If your secondary aged child cannot test in school or you’re unsure about using a home testing kit, tests are also available at Harrow Council’s rapid testing sites (link to main page). Children aged 11 to 15 can test at these sites if they are accompanied by a parent or guardian, who must also provide their consent.

Adults in your household or childcare bubble, not in education

It’s recommended you test twice a week, with 3 or 4 days between each test. You may be able to test in the workplace. Alternatively, you can test at one of our rapid test centres.

These are open 7 days a week and offer early morning as well as late night testing. Please note that you cannot collect home test kits from any of these test centres, they only offer testing on site.

You can also test in another borough if it offers a more convenient site.

Find your nearest rapid test centre.

Adults can also test using home test kits, as above. Again, they should only request kits by post if these other options cannot be used.

This guidance follows the latest Government advice – find out more at GOV.UK.

What happens if we test positive?

You should follow a pattern of regular testing and attending school and work as long as everyone in your household tests negative and continues to feel well. If one member of your household tests positive, you should all self-isolate at home for 10 days. Only by taking this action will we stop Covid spreading through society and get back to a more normal life.

You should also self-isolate if any family member develops symptoms of coronavirus – a fever, continuous cough, or change to their sense of taste or smell. You should self-isolate, even if the person with symptoms recently tested negative.

The family member that’s feeling unwell should take a different type of test, one used when people have symptoms. This can be ordered online or by calling 119.

Only if this test comes back as negative can your family stop its self-isolation before the full 10 days is up.

Find out more about self-isolating.

If you’re on a low income and cannot work while self-isolating, you may be entitled to a payment of £500.