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Antigen testing programme to be rolled out for early learning and childcare services from tomorrow

Tests will be available to children aged four and over and staff in a pod where there’s a confirmed Covid case.

AN ANTIGEN TESTING programme is being introduced for early learning and childcare (ELC) services, Children’s Minister Roderic O’Gorman has confirmed. 

The parameters for the programme have been agreed by the HSE. 

The antigen tests will be available to children aged four and over and staff in a pod where there is a confirmed case of Covid-19.

Antigen testing for children under the age of four has not been recommended. 

The measures will kick in from tomorrow. 

Under the antigen testing programme, parents are requested to inform the manager of their child’s ELC service immediately if their child has a positive Covid-19 PCR test result.

The manager will then contact the staff and parents of the other children in the pod to inform then that there is a case and to give them information on how they can request antigen tests for their child (where the child in 4 years or more), should they wish to do so.

Antigen testing will be voluntary. 

Children who are well and have no Covid-19 or respiratory symptoms can remain in their ELC services while they are completing their antigen tests, the Department of Children has outlined. 

However, parents are being asked not send their child to their ELC service (regardless of their age) if they have symptoms consistent with Covid-19, or if their child has a positive PCR or antigen test.

“Children’s health and well-being is at the forefront of all our work. Early learning and childcare providers have risen to the challenge of adapting to the current Covid-19 restrictions which has kept transmission rates low in their services,” O’Gorman said. 

“To further support their efforts and make these critical services safer for children, their families and the early learning and childcare workforce, I am happy to announce the introduction of antigen testing for children aged four and over and for staff in in these settings,” he said. 

“This will enable staff and children aged four and old in a pod with a confirmed Covid-19 case to request a pack of antigen tests if they wish to,” the Minister added. 

“Children will be able to continue to attend their service if they do not have a positive antigen test and they are not showing symptoms of Covid-19.”

Information on this announcement is being sent to ELC providers, along with a communication from the Department to be circulated to the parents in their service. 

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