School kids to get rapid COVID tests to take home for Christmas

519

The Ontario government is providing take-home COVID-19 tests for publicly funded school students.

It’s part of a plan to ramp up testing heading into the Christmas season where scientists say the number of cases of the virus is likely to rise as people move indoors and socialize.

The number of COVID-19 cases has been rising – today 711 new cases were reported in Ontario.

The province announced it would be distributing 11 million rapid antigen screening tests to all public schools ahead of the Christmas break so parents can be prepared heading back to school in January.

“We’re going into the social season…it is known we’re seeing increasing cases,” says Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Keiran Moore. “It is prudent to have those tests in the hands of families for the holiday season…to test early before the return to school.”

The province is also allowing selected pharmacy to give PCR tests for people who have COVID-19 symptoms. It is a move that worried some saying the elderly and the immuno compromised are often in pharmacies and could be exposed.

Moore says the pharmacies will have strict guidelines to follow.

The province also plans pop-up testing sites in higher traffic public settings to provide vaccine education and reduce the risk of transmission over the holidays.

School boards have also been given the okay for secondary schools to resume the regular semester system with four classes instead of two starting in February.

It’s a move welcomed by school boards. “This return to a regular timetable for secondary students will improve student engagement and achievement while allowing educators to create more effective teaching and learning environments,” says Cathy Abram president of the Ontario Public School Boards’ Association in a news release adding the association has been advocating for the change.