Every household in England with school aged children is to be offered two rapid Covid tests per person every week, the government has announced.

The policy has been launched as the country gears up for the return to school on March 8 and is described as a vital part of the road map out of the lockdown set out by Prime Minister Boris Johnson last week.

The offer is also extended to families with kids at primary school, secondary school and college and includes childcare and support bubbles.

According to the government, the rapid test kits will be available to collect from more than 500 locations, or through workplace testing and local community testing services by the following ways

Tests will be available for adults in these households to collect on March 1. As with student testing, this is encouraged but not mandatory.

A secondary PCR test will be required for positive lateral flow tests which are taken at home, either through at home PCR testing or at a local PCR testing site.

Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock

As laid out in the road map, secondary school and college students will now be tested twice a week, receiving three initial tests at school or college before transitioning to twice weekly home testing.

Primary school children will not be regularly asymptomatically tested due to low levels of transmission between younger aged children but will continue to need to come forward for tests if they have symptoms.

Twice-weekly testing will also be offered to adults working in the wider school community, including bus drivers and after school club leaders.

Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said: “Regular testing of households and childcare support bubbles of primary and secondary school children is another tool we are making available to help keep schools safe.

"We know that one in three people with Covid-19 don’t have any symptoms, so targeted, regular testing will mean more positive cases are kept out of schools and colleges.

“As we continue to roll out the vaccine, testing offers us a way forward. Sustained and repeated testing for people without symptoms has a critical role to play as sections of society are reopened by driving down transmission rates."

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said: “Testing family members will provide yet another layer of reassurance to parents and education staff that schools are as safe as possible, building on the massive increase in testing for secondary school and college students, and strengthened requirements around face coverings in areas where social distancing cannot be maintained.”

Professor Yvonne Doyle, Medical Director at Public Health England

Professor Yvonne Doyle, Medical Director at Public Health England, said: “These rapid tests help uncover hidden cases of the virus and break chains of transmission, stopping outbreaks before they occur.

“Combined with other protective measures, they are a vital tool to help us lower infection rates and ensure that they stay low.

“I would encourage all eligible households to take up the offer of twice weekly rapid testing – it’s quick and painless and could help save lives.”