Hamilton schools to hand out COVID-19 rapid tests next week for use over winter break

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Published December 9, 2021 at 1:37 pm

COVID tests

Schools in Hamilton will start handing out COVID-19 testing kits next week for students to use over the upcoming holiday break.

In a letter to families, the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board (HWDSB) said that using the tests is voluntary but they encourage their use in an effort to facilitate a safe return to schools in the new year.

“The rapid antigen screening kits are intended for use by any child that attends a publicly funded school, regardless of their vaccination status,” the letter, issued Wednesday (Dec. 8), said.

“Students are not required to participate in order to return to the classroom after the winter break.”

Schools will start handing out the packages, which will contain five tests, during the week of December 13 to 17 and schools will notify their communities on the day they are handed out.

Families of students who choose to use screening kits should conduct the rapid antigen tests every three to four days over the holiday break (HWDSB recommends every Monday and Thursday beginning December 23) until all five tests have been used.

Rapid antigen screening kits are only to be used when a child is asymptomatic. Anyone with symptoms or who is identified as a close contact of a case should still get PCR testing because the rapid screening tests are not considered a substitute for the PCR tests.

The rapid antigen test produces results within 15 minutes and is considered a ‘preliminary positive.’

If a rapid test produces a positive result, a confirmatory PCR test “should be done as soon as possible (ideally within 48 hours).”

As of Thursday (Dec. 9), there are 70 confirmed cases of COVID-19 among both staff and students in schools across Hamilton and seven active outbreaks in those settings.

More information about the rapid tests and their use can be found on the HWDSB website.

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