The Department for Education is planning for primary schools pupils to be tested for Covid at home rather than at school, it was revealed today.
Education secretary Gavin Williamson told MPs that it would not be right or appropriate for school staff to be expected to carry out rapid tests of younger children.
In secondary schools, staff are supervising tests done by pupils.
The department's permanent secretary, Susan Acland-Hood, said the DfE was working with Public Health England on plans to ensure primary school pupils could be tested at home by parents.
She says this would unlock the ability to do testing at a greater scale.
She told the education select committee today that this plan would be piloted first.
Mr Williamson also said that mass Covid testing of staff would be rolled out to primary schools from next week.
The government announced major plans for rapid testing in secondary schools at the end of last term.
Before the national lockdown was announced the government's plan for the full return of schools had been underpinned by using lateral flow tests on staff and students.
The plan was to test secondary school students twice before the start of term and also to carry our weekly tests on staff and a daily test for seven days on pupils or staff who have come into contact with a Covid case in school.
The plan was to keep people in schools if they tested negative for the virus rather than sending them home to self isolate as they had done last term.
However some scientists are warning that the tests are not reliable, will miss Covid cases, and the DfE plan will result in pupils with Covid remaining in school rather than self-isolating.