As part of a Ministry of Education (MOE) initiative to ensure a safe return to school in January 2022, every RCCDSB student will be provided with a rapid antigen screening kit to utilize over the holiday break and the first week back to school if they choose.
This is one of a number of key actions the MOE is taking, in consultation and partnership with the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health, to keep schools safe for in-person learning.
“The provision added testing support is being done in an effort to promote a safer return to the classroom and to reduce any further impact on the health and well-being of our students,” notes Mark Searson, RCCDSB Director of Education.
All 2.2 million students in Ontario who attend publicly funded school in person (not available to students who participate in virtual learning) will be able to take home a BTNX rapid antigen screening kit that contains five tests.
Testing is voluntary. For students who choose to use the rapid antigen screening kits, it is recommend the test be conducted every 3-4 days over the holiday break (i.e., every Monday and Thursday) beginning December 23 until all five tests have been used.
The screening tests should only be used when a child is asymptomatic (does not have any symptoms or exposure to a confirmed case of COVID-19).
Test results are ready within 15 minutes. If test results are negative, the student may attend school as usual, while continuing to adhere to all relevant public health guidance on gathering, distancing and masking.
If a student tests positive using the rapid antigen screening, they must follow Renfrew County District Health Unit (RCDHU) guidance, including obtaining a PCR test as soon as possible for confirmation.
Any students who have symptoms of COVID-19 or who are high risk contacts of cases should also obtain PCR testing.
Testing is an important tool for managing the spread of COVID-19, but vaccination remains the most effective protection against the virus and its variants. The continuation of key public health strategies that have kept the pandemic in check, such as staying home when sick, getting tested if symptomatic, washing hands frequently and wearing a mask is also crucial.
“Working together, taking advantage of the tests kits being provided, and following public health guidelines will help to keep our schools open and as safe as possible,” says Searson.