Ontario’s Education Ministry has given school boards less than a week to have voluntary asymptomatic testing plans in place.
A letter was sent out via Education Minister Stephen Lecce on Tuesday that outlines what steps school boards across Ontario must take to introduce an asymptomatic testing program by February 22. The letter stipulates that five percent of any given board’s elementary and secondary schools must be tested per week. For the Simcoe County District School Board (SCDSB), that means five of its 101 schools must undergo asymptomatic testing every week, while the Simcoe Muskoka Catholic District School Board (SMCDSB) must make sure three of its 50 schools do the same. Two of the Trillium Lakelands District School Board’s 47 schools must also run asymptomatic testing programs among students and staff every week.
Each school board is required to submit weekly or multi-weekly testing plans that identify the schools where testing will take place, and are also asked to report back to the ministry on testing activity. Local health units are invited to participate in school selection, and each school board is encouraged to share testing plans with their individual health units.
It is unknown which local schools will have testing made available to them.
Testing will be voluntary and consent will be required. Only asymptomatic students and staff will be tested. Household members of students or staff should see testing at an assessment centre, as should anyone with symptoms.
The Ministry of Education is expected to set up meetings with school boards to discuss testing plans next week.