In Germany and Austria, children tested two to three times a week

The reopening of German schools, which remained closed or in alternating operation for more than six months during the winter and spring of 2021, has been accompanied since April by the gradual generalization of tests in schools, after a debate carried out in the regions which have academic competence in Germany. Thus in Bavaria, where tests already take place systematically in primary school, they will not be generalized in nursery school until January.

One of the main concerns raised was who was going to perform the tests, in a country where children’s rights were paid high attention, and how long it was going to take in a day. Finally, several protocols were adopted.

In Berlin, nurseries and kindergartens provided parents with antigenic tests with a nasal swab, to be performed on their child from 1 year old, two to three times a week. A certificate, accompanied by a photograph of the negative test, is requested upon entering the establishment. In primary schools and beyond, it is the children themselves who take their own test, starting in first grade, under the supervision of their teacher. In the event of a positive result, a positive antigen test must be supplemented by a PCR test before ordering quarantine.

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The “PCR lollipop”

But another method is becoming generalized, nicknamed the “PCR lollipop”. Successfully tested in Cologne, North Rhine-Westphalia, from spring 2021, it consists of taking a saliva sample two to three times a week from the child, who sucks a bottle brush for thirty seconds. This method is considered more acceptable for children because it is less unpleasant than the nasal test. The teacher, who also tests himself, then collects the samples in the same container and sends it to the laboratory, which conducts a single test for the class. If the result is positive, the students must stay at home the next day, and a second PCR test, this time individually, is performed. Only positive cases should be isolated.

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This method is considered to be less expensive than individual PCR tests, while still allowing reliable follow-up of cases, with a high frequency of testing. It limits unnecessary quarantines and also relieves parents of the operation of the test. PCRs are known to be more accurate than antigenic tests, which are not always performed with sufficient care, especially at home. However, the PCR lollipop method is not yet practiced by all communities due to its cost and limited laboratory capacities.

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In Germany and Austria, children tested two to three times a week

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