FAQs about COVID-19 testing of pupils


Ahead of the restart of training on 12 April, members will be naturally concerned as to the risk of exposure to pupils with COVID-19. 

DIA’s risk management advice throughout the pandemic still stands. Remember our post-lockdown toolkit and training resources are free to members. Click here to find out more.

  • You should contact all current pupils ahead of restarting training and clearly communicate any new policies and procedures related to COVID-19
  • You should review your terms and conditions and ensure they are fit for purpose in terms of managing the risk of short notice cancellations on lessons due to you or your pupil being unwell or showing symptoms of COVID-19. 
  • We recommend you contact all pupils a few days before each lesson to ensure they are fit and well enough the take the lesson and that they know they should contact you if they feel they have been exposed to COVID-19 or are showing symptoms, have had a positive test result etc
  • We recommend you contact pupils additionally 24 hours before each lesson and on the day of their lesson to ensure they are fit and healthy enough to take their lesson
  • Policies around cancellations due to COVID-19 are entirely at the discretion of the driving school or ATB but we strongly recommend you have clear policies set out in your terms and conditions
  • You should risk assess your pupils and determine whether you have pupils at higher risk (i.e. those working in healthcare settings) and what your policy/approach will be in regards to those higher risk pupils. A risk assessment matrix is available in our free member toolkit.

We have also produced below some FAQs specifically on pupil testing which may be helpful.

1. Can I insist my pupils can only have their lessons if they have a test and can prove a negative result?

It is entirely at the discretion of the instructor as to whether they institute a policy of no test, no lesson. As an individual driving or riding school you can make a policy decision which requires pupils to provide evidence of a negative result but you cannot force a pupil to take a test itself as tests are entirely voluntary. This policy should be accounted for in your terms & conditions and all pupils, new and current, appraised of the new policy and any changes to your terms & conditions before lessons commence. You should think very carefully before instituting a no test, no lesson policy as access to testing kits and the ability for a pupil to take a test or provide proof of a negative test result before every lesson may be very difficult.

2. I’m looking at getting a supply of testing kits, can I force my pupils to take them?

The actual submission to any COVID-19 test is entirely voluntary and you cannot force an individual to take a test. You could however, at your own training school’s discretion (and      according to what policies and procedures you choose to implement), stipulate proof of a negative test result taken in the last 72 hours is required before a lesson as a condition of your driving or riding school. You can offer to provide tests to pupils but remember it is at their choice to take it and we would recommend you make no physical contact with the pupil when carrying out tests. Pupils who are attending school, college or university should have access to regular testing so you can suggest they seek a test via those channels or decide whether you wish to provide. Some lateral flow tests kits are available, via local councils, to those who work from home but these are in fairly short supply and you may want to ask pupils to provide proof of a negative result, rather than offering the use of any testing kit you have.

We have asked DVSA whether it has any plans to require pupils to provide a negative test result before attending either their theory or driving test. The agency responded that this is not something it is actively looking at at this stage. Examiners will be able to access regular tests from DVSA as their employer.

3. Which type of test should me or my pupils consider?

PCR tests

PCR tests are mainly used to confirm coronavirus cases in people with symptoms who are already self-isolating. They can still find positive cases even if someone has stopped being infectious.

Rapid lateral flow tests

Around one in three people with COVID-19 do not have symptoms but can still infect others. Rapid lateral flow tests help to find these cases. If someone can no longer infect others, rapid lateral flow tests are less likely to return a positive result. 

When to get a rapid lateral flow test

You can get a rapid lateral flow test if you have no symptoms and meet any of these conditions:

  • You work at a school, college or nursery
  • You attend a school or college
  • You’re in a household, support or childcare bubble with school, college or nursery staff, pupils or students
  • You work in a job related to schools, colleges or nurseries
  • You cannot work from home
  • You work at a university or attend one

How to get rapid lateral flow tests

This guidance applies to England only. Find out about testing in ScotlandWales or Northern Ireland.

From your local council

Find out if your area offers rapid lateral flow tests.

Some local councils are prioritising people who cannot work from home.

From a local pharmacy

You can collect rapid lateral flow tests to do at home from some pharmacies.

Find a pharmacy where you can collect tests.

From your employer

Ask your employer if they can get tests.

They may be able to register to order rapid lateral flow tests for employees

How tests work and how long results take

A PCR test works by swabbing the inside of your nose and the back of your throat. The sample is sent to a lab and you usually get a result in a couple of days.

A rapid lateral flow test works by swabbing your throat near your tonsils and nose. You get a result in 30 minutes.

Click here for more advice on testing and access to tests.

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