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Test to Protect Kids - Resources

To make testing more accessible, and to support early detection of COVID-19, Nova Scotia is introducing a take-home testing pilot program for families with children under the age of 12.

Find below information and resources about this program.

Frequently Asked Questions

The test kits have a printed expiry date. The expiry date has been extended 10 months beyond the original expiry date printed on the package of the test.

For example, if the test expiry date reads May 2021, the new expiry date which has been approved by Health Canada is March 2022.

The program provides rapid antigen tests to families with public school students in grades pre-primary through six to use at home to:

  • support easy and early detection of COVID-19 
  • minimize disruptions of in-classroom learning and childcare 
  • reduce burden on families.

A rapid COVID-19 test is a test that can detect COVID-19 in about 15 minutes. This rapid test can be used at home to detect COVID-19 in people aged 3 and older with symptoms of COVID-19.  

It is less accurate than a lab-based test at a testing site, which means that if negative, the test must be repeated after 48 hours.

If positive your child must get a confirmation lab-based test.  

Tests will be provided to children in pre-primary through grades six through the public-school system to take home.

Each child will receive four rapid antigen home tests. Two tests are required each time a child experiences a respiratory (cold and flu symptoms) illness. 

The rapid antigen test involves a shallow nose swab of both nostrils. This is different from the deeper nasopharyngeal swab used at testing clinics.

Step by step instructions are provided with the test kits. In addition, there is a demonstration video that can be found at:

The tests can be used if:

  1. Your child has a single mild symptom other than a cough (e.g. a runny nose) and is well enough to attend school. You have completed the online assessment or called 811 and have been advised your child does not require testing at a testing site but you want to feel safe sending your child to school.

  2. Your child has a cough or two or more symptoms. This means your child must isolate and you should seek lab-based testing at a NSH testing site, however it is hard for you to get to a NSH site then use these rapid tests.

  3. You have reviewed the instruction and feel comfortable doing the shallow nose swab on your child.

The rapid test will give you a result in about 15 minutes.

  1. If your child had a single mild symptom other than a cough AND is well enough to attend school, your child can go to school following a negative result.

    Because rapid antigen tests are not as accurate as lab-based tests, your child must complete a second rapid test 48 hours after the completing the first. If both tests are negative you can be quite confident that your child does not have COVID-19.
  2. If your child has a cough or two or more other symptoms, your child must isolate for 48 hours following a negative test result.

    After 48 hours a second rapid test must be completed. If your child receives a negative result on the second test they can return to activities outside the home when feeling better with no fever and no symptoms or only mild lingering symptoms for 24 hours.

    Seek medical attention if needed. Consult 811 or the online assessment if symptoms continue. 

A positive test result is considered a presumptive positiveThis means your child probably has COVID-19 but it must be confirmed using a lab-based test at a Nova Scotia Health testing site.

If your child’s rapid test result is positive you will need to do the following:

  • Schedule a lab-based test at a NSH testing site.
    • You can schedule online or by calling 811.
    • When you take your child to the testing appointment, be sure to inform staff that your child tested positive using a rapid test.
  • Your child must immediately self-isolate until you receive their test results.
    • Anyone who is confirmed positive with a lab-based test will be contacted by Public Health with further instructions.  
    • If the lab-based test is negative then your child does not have COVID-19 and can return to activities outside the home when feeling better.

  • If your child is experiencing more severe symptoms, you should seek medical care immediately.
  • If you child has been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 and requires testing, either for symptoms or as advised by Public Health, you should not use a rapid antigen tests. Instead, you should take your child to be tested at a NSH testing site.
  • If your child has recently tested positive for COVID-19 you should not use the rapid take-home tests for one month following your diagnosis, because the test might pick up old non-infectious virus. If new symptoms develop after one month you may use the tests.

You should only use these tests in the circumstances described.

To ensure that we have enough tests to supply every family that needs them, children will initially be limited to four tests.

Lab-based symptomatic testing is still readily available across the province at Nova Scotia Health testing sites. If you need assistance for transportation to a test appointment, please complete the online assessment or call 811 and call the number provided for transportation assistance. 

The majority of students in grades 7-12 are eligible to be vaccinated. Given that there are a limited number of tests available, we are focusing on the younger students.

Lab-based symptomatic testing continues to be available across the province for all Nova Scotians and is important that anyone with symptoms compete the online assessment or call 811 to see if they should be tested.

While participation in the rapid testing is not mandatory, it is strongly encouraged.

Children must not attend school if they have cough or 2 or more other symptoms until they have tested negative with a lab-based test or 2 rapid tests 48 hours apart.