COVID rapid testing for students to be offered through some public health units

Parents will be able to choose if their unvaccinated asymptomatic children will participate

Queen’s Park says it will provide students with access to COVID rapid testing through participating public health units where the risk of transmission is high.

Access to the testing will be voluntary for unvaccinated children and students to help identify and prevent transmission of the virus in schools and licensed child care settings.

“Targeted asymptomatic screening has the potential to detect cases in schools earlier and reduce the risk of outbreaks and closures, particularly in communities across the province that have a high prevalence of active COVID-19 cases,” said Dr. Kieran Moore, Chief Medical Officer of Health. “Expanding access to rapid antigen screening may be another way to help keep schools safer and students in the classroom.”

Related: 25 active COVID cases at publicly funded schools in Simcoe County including 10 at one Bradford school

Where the local public health unit has identified schools or child care centres that would benefit from this screening, rapid antigen screening tests will be made available. Parents will be able to choose if their unvaccinated asymptomatic children will participate in this screening offered by their schools or licensed child care settings. Unvaccinated children participating in the program will be able to conduct the rapid antigen screening at home with instructions. Children who receive a positive result will be required to seek a confirmatory lab-based PCR test at a local assessment centre or specimen collection centre and isolate until the result of that lab-based PCR test is known.

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Dr. Moore is still not recommending routine rapid antigen screening of fully vaccinated individuals and children. He points to the effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccines, as well as the risks posed to the disruption of learning as a result of false positives.

Dr. Moore continues to encourage everyone who has yet to get their first or second dose of the COVID-19 vaccination to do so, “as soon as you can to increase our level of community immunity and protect our students and young Ontarians who are not yet eligible to receive the vaccine.”

As of Monday, there were 25 active cases of COVID reported at schools in Simcoe County.

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