This morning, the Government of Ontario announced that rapid COVID-19 antigen tests will be made available for targeted testing of children in schools and registered childcare settings. WDG Public Health is announcing that our region will participate in the program and that local planning is currently underway.
“I am pleased to see the Province add this layer of protection,” said Dr. Nicola Mercer, Medical Officer of Health. “This program adds another local tool to fight this pandemic in Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph. Locally, we will use the best available health data to ensure these tests are used as effectively as possible to protect children who are most at risk from COVID-19.”
While the program is still in development, the preliminary details are as follows:
- WDG Public Health will use available health data to identify which schools and childcare centres are the most appropriate settings for rapid testing based on factors within the facility and the surrounding community, relying on guidance from the Province
- Rapid test kits and education on their use will be provided to schools and childcare settings through their school board, school administration or facility management
- Rapid antigen screening will be used only for unvaccinated asymptomatic students and children who are not high-risk contacts. Symptomatic or high-risk contacts should continue to access lab-based PCR testing available at assessment centres and other collection centres.
- Parents will have the option to choose whether their unvaccinated asymptomatic children (who are not high-risk contacts) participate in the program
- Children who receive a positive test would then require a lab-based PCR test at one of our local Assessment Centres
- Children who receive a negative test can continue with in-person learning
“COVID-19 can seriously impact a child’s health and their social and school lives,” said Dr. Mercer. “Testing gives us another way to protect individual children and those they live with, learn with and play with.”
For more information on COVID-19 and schools, please visit wdgpublichealth.ca/safer-schools.
Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health
1-800-265-7293 ext. 4376