Ontario to roll out rapid testing at schools in COVID-19 hot spots

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Sources say the province is set to announce rapid COVID-19 testing in schools in high-risk areas, allowing widespread testing in cases of the outbreak to help keep students in the classroom Will give

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Ontario’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Kieran Moore, is expected to announce Tuesday morning in Queens Park about a rapid antigen testing program for hot spots after indicating last week that such a move was in the works. Is.

A source familiar with the plan told the Star that it will go beyond surveillance testing to include a “test to stay” strategy, which will reduce the time students and staff are away from schools during the outbreak.

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The source said the testing would be run by individual public health units along with local school boards.

The move comes as the government has come under pressure from parents and opposition critics to provide more tests in schools – especially for primary students, as they are under the age of 12, who have yet to be vaccinated. not allowed.

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Since early August, about 2,430 COVID cases have been reported in schools in the province, mostly students. In total, Ontario’s public schools have two million students.

Five of the province’s 4,844 schools are currently closed due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Liberal leader Steven Del Duca has repeatedly called on the government to “considerably deploy” rapid testing in schools.

The increase in testing also comes in the form of news that almost 80 percent of education workers have reported fully immunized.

“Doug Ford needs to make vaccines mandatory for education workers so children can stay safe and schools can stay open,” Green Party leader Mike Schreiner said in a written statement. “A vaccination rate of 80 percent among education workers is not sufficient when children under 12 are still ineligible for the vaccine and at increased risk from the delta variant.”

In August, the province announced a pilot program in some high schools to run in September and October, distributing take-home tests to high school students and staff exposed to COVID-19.

A memorandum to education directors said the pilot program would target 13 public health units – including about 40 boards in the Durham, Peel and York areas – and that “through this pilot, immunization and asymptomatic students and Employees will receive an at-home self-collection kit when they have been identified as a high-risk contact as part of an identified cohort or outbreak.”

Kristin Rushovi is a Toronto-based reporter who covers Ontario politics for Granthshala. Follow him on Twitter: @krushowy
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