Rapid Antigen Tests

Rapid Antigen Tests

Guidance on how to get Rapid Antigen Tests (RATs) for symptomatic and asymptomatic testing in the education sector

Provision of RAT kits

Early learning services, schools and kura

To improve access for students and staff, we distributed RAT kits for use by children, students and staff.

There are no plans currently for further distribution of RAT kits once all those provided to us by the Ministry of Health have been distributed. 

Once you have exhausted your Ministry of Education supply of kits you need to advise symptomatic staff and students to get a kit from a community collection point. 

Specialist schools, special needs units, and school hostels

RAT kits will continue to be distributed to allow for twice weekly asymptomatic testing for staff on a voluntary basis over winter (until the end of Term 3 in September 2022). 

This recognises the greater vulnerability of students in specialist schools and special needs units and that students in school hostels are living in a residential setting where transmission risks remain higher than in other settings.  

When to offer symptomatic testing

Testing should be offered to any child, young person or staff member present at your early learning service, school or kura with COVID-19 symptoms. A list of symptoms is available at the Unite Against COVID-19 website. 

COVID symptoms – Unite against COVID-19 

Staff members with symptoms can administer the test themselves. 

For children and young people who are symptomatic or became symptomatic while present at their early learning service or school, we expect that tests will usually be administered at home. We recommend that younger children with symptoms are collected by a parent or caregiver and the test provided to the parent or caregiver to administer at home. 

These RAT kits do not replace existing health measures in schools and early learning services. Schools and early learning services should continue to follow applicable health measures. 

Testing is voluntary. 

This is a short-term measure to complement those already in place (including vaccination, face masks, sound hygiene practices and good ventilation) during the peak of Omicron in a region. 

Specific settings where asymptomatic RAT testing can be applied

Regular asymptomatic testing of staff remains available to, specialist school and special needs units, and school hostels because: 

  • While vaccination is available to students in specialist schools and special needs units, other mitigation measures can be more difficult to maintain and some students are more medically fragile. 
  • Staff in school hostels are being offered the opportunity to opt in given the residential living arrangements. 

If you have chosen to opt into asymptomatic testing, staff should test themselves twice weekly, a minimum of three days apart.  Any staff member who has recently recovered from a COVID-19 infection (ie within the last 28 days) should not participate in asymptomatic testing, as the test is likely to detect traces of the virus from the earlier infection. Testing is voluntary. If a person does have symptoms, they should complete a test immediately, outside of the twice weekly scheme. 

If you are eligible for asymptotic testing and need more RAT kits, please contact RapidAntigen.TestOrdering@education.govt.nz

If you have symptoms

If you are sick, stay home and get tested. RATs remain the primary testing tool for people with COVID-19 symptoms. Anyone who is symptomatic can access free tests at RAT collection sites. 

Call your doctor or Healthline on 0800 358 5453 for advice about getting tested.   

Rapid Antigen Tests - Ministry of Health 

How to use RATs

How to use RATs – Ministry of Health 

What to do if you have a positive test result 

Any positive cases should be reported via the normal processes and all results, both positive and negative, should be entered by the individual in their My COVID-19 Record. 

How to report RATs result – Unite against COVID-19 

If you have COVID-19 – Unite against COVID-19 

No need to report to Ministry about use of RATs 

You do not need to report to us on the use of the tests we provide to you. 

The Ministry will collect information on the number of schools and early learning services that opt in, their locations, and the number of rapid antigen tests provided.