Ontario will be one of the first provinces in Canada to offer take-home COVID-19 test kits to all students and school staff.
Education Minister Stephen Lecce says take-home PCR self-collection kits will be offered to all publicly funded schools across Ontario starting mid-November.
The new testing kits come as part of a slew of new measures Ontario is implementing in schools to keep them safe from virus transmission.
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 convenient locations in the community.
“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.” Lecce says.
The province is also launching a new “test-to-stay” which Lecce says involves frequent rapid antigen screening over a ten day period for asymptomatic, unvaccinated students in a school that might otherwise require whole school dismissal.
The point of the new approach, he says, is to support in-person learning and avoid whole school dismissals
And finally, Lecce says Ontario is elevating the requirement for unvaccinated school staff to undergo rapid antigen screening from two to three times per week.
***With files from Mohamed Fahim