Rapid antigen testing for Covid could be used for school students and staff across one state if a new trial proves successful.
Rapid antigen tests could soon be rolled out at high schools across NSW in a bid to reduce disruption.
A pilot program will begin in Albury next week, with staff and students required to test themselves twice a week with the rapid tests as part of “community surveillance”.
Those who receive a positive result will need to follow up with a regular PCR swab at a NSW testing centre, while those who are negative can continue their day-to-day activity.
Close contacts of Covid positive cases at schools will also have their isolation period halved, provided they receive daily negative test results over seven days.
Unvaccinated students who are close contacts of a positive case will have their isolation time reduced if they submit to daily rapid antigen testing.
Education Minister Sarah Mitchell said if the trial was successful, it would mean disruption for students was reduced.
“This is about living with a virus and getting back to normal life, while ensuring the community is confident in their safety on school sites,” Ms Mitchell said.
“Our best line of defence against this pandemic remains vaccinations, and until all students are eligible for one we must continue using RAHT kits to keep schools safe.”
Ms Mitchell said while the use of RAHT kits would be optional, close contacts who do not undergo daily tests would need to self-isolate for the full 14 days.
Member for Albury Justin Clancy said he welcomed “any opportunity to minimise disruption for students”.
“While this is a tough time for our community, I’m hopeful this new testing regime will reduce disruption for students and families in the area,” he said.
Rapid antigen home testing kits will be available for commercial sale in all states, except for WA and SA, from Monday.