Triple testing with RATs Monday, Wednesday and Friday: SA ECEC plan revealed

Triple testing with RATs Monday, Wednesday and Friday: SA ECEC plan revealed

by Freya Lucas

January 24, 2022

The South Australian Government has prioritised early childhood education and care (ECEC) for rapid antigen testing (RAT) as part of “surveillance COVID-19 testing” along with a staggered start to the 2022 academic year. 


Further details about the State’s ‘Back to School’ plan were provided late last week. Under the plan, it is “strongly recommended” that early learning centres and preschool education and care staff undertake a rapid antigen test every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, based on advice from chief medical officer Professor Paul Kelly given at last week’s National Cabinet meeting.


“We will be providing surveillance testing for teachers in that early learning environment – preschools and childcare – they will be having tests provided to them for testing on Mondays, Wednesday and Fridays, but there will be no further surveillance or tests required across our school setting for teachers or for students,” Premier Steven Marshall said. 


This perspective was further supported by Chief Public Health officer Professor Nicola Spurrier who said RATs were “not designed to be surveillance tests done on an irregular basis”.


“Let’s have a look at where the best bang for our buck would be. In early childhood settings and preschools the children cannot be vaccinated…and of course kids that age cannot wear masks.”

“There’s very little risk mitigation that you can do in those settings, so the evidence shows that if you are going to use rapid antigen tests in those screening or surveillance modes, then you have to do it at least three times a week or every second day.”

For those who return positive RATs, be they children or educators, Professor Spurrier said they will need to follow up with a PCR. 


To review the testing, isolation and quarantine for preschool and early childhood settings PDF, see here. The starting term 1 2022 document is available here