Province wants Mississauga and Brampton students to take COVID-19 tests at home

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Published August 24, 2021 at 4:40 pm

A number of students and staff at certain high schools in Mississauga and Brampton are being asked to take COVID-19 tests at home when they return to school in a few weeks as part of an Ontario-wide pilot project.

The pilot, announced today by Ontario’s Ministry of Education in an attempt to monitor exposure to COVID-19 at the province’s schools, will ask vaccinated and asymptomatic students and staff at specific schools who are exposed to the virus via outbreak or cohort to take an at-home test.

A memo from deputy minister of education Nancy Naylor sent to directors of education at school boards in Peel, Niagara, Windsor-Essex and eastern Ontario regions, among other locations, says the pilot will run from Sept. 7 to Oct. 29 at targeted schools in 13 public health units across the province.

It’s not yet known which schools in Peel have been chosen to participate in the pilot, or how many students will be asked to volunteer. Officials at both the Peel District School Board and Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board could not be reached for comment this afternoon.

Naylor’s letter also notes that participation in the program is voluntary, and students will not be required to disclose their vaccination status in order to receive a testing kit. Completed and packaged test specimens will be dropped off at the schools, then picked up by a courier.

High schools were chosen based on the local public health situation, including vaccination rates and recent data on COVID-19 positivity rates.

“We are doing everything possible to keep students in class, including offering new testing options that are more convenient and accessible for students and families,” Education Minister Stephen Lecce said in a statement.

“Following the advice of Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, our government is making more low-barrier testing options available—including take-home tests for many high school students—part of our plan to reduce absenteeism and keep kids learning in-class.”

Today, Ontario reported 486 new COVID-19 cases, most of them among people who are not fully vaccinated or whose vaccination status is unknown.

–with files from The Canadian Press

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