Queen’s Park says it will start offering take-home COVID tests to all publicly funded schools across Ontario.
Education Minister Stephen Lecce announced on Thursday the province is offering polymerase chain reaction (PCR) self-collection kits to all schools and all grades, with a phased rollout expected to start in mid-November. The province is also launching a “test-to-stay” approach for asymptomatic, unvaccinated students by using rapid antigen screening tests in an effort to avoid whole-school closures.
Students with COVID-19 symptoms and students who have been identified as close contacts of a confirmed COVID-19 case will be able to pick up PCR self-collection kits at school, complete the specimen self-collection at home and drop the specimen off at predetermined locations.
“While Ontario schools are safer places to learn supported by enhanced ventilation and high vaccination rates, we are taking nothing for granted,” said Lecce. “By expanding access to testing and helping to better screen for COVID-19, we are protecting the progress we have made so far in keeping our schools safer for students and helping to limit disruption to the school year.”
Thursday’s announcement included the stipulation that unvaccinated education staff undergo COVID testing three times a week, while only two tests per week were required previously.
According to the province, more than 83 per cent of youth aged 12 and up have received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 77 per cent have gotten their second. Since the school year began in September, the province says more than 99 per cent of students have not reported a case of COVID-19.