Free antigen tests have been made available for Ireland's school children from today.
From today, any parents or guardians whose children receive positive COVID tests should contact their child's school principal. Parents of other children in the affected child's pod will then be contacted by the principal to order free antigen tests through a freephone number. The parents will then conduct the tests at home.
The Department of Education has advised that if children are displaying COVID symptoms they should take a PCR test rather than an antigen test.
In a letter sent to parents last week, the department said "children in the pod of the confirmed Covid-19 case can continue to attend school as long as they have no symptoms and they do not have a positive Covid-19 test result (antigen or PCR)."
"If at any time, your child develops symptoms they should isolate at home and you should book a Covid-19 PCR test for them," the letter advised. "Do this even if the antigen test has a negative (not detected) result. If an antigen test is positive, it is important that your child isolates at home and that you book a Covid-19 PCR."
Teachers and others working closely with school children can also avail of free tests if there is a confirmed case in their classroom.
Parents and teachers are under no obligation to take the tests or share the results with their school.