All Mississauga, Brampton, Hamilton students will get two rapid tests upon return to school Monday


Published January 12, 2022 at 2:53 pm

All students and teachers in Mississauga, Brampton, Hamilton and across the province will receive two rapid tests apiece upon their return to school on Monday, Ontario’s education minister promised this afternoon.

The Ontario government says it’s also providing teachers in Mississauga and across the province with some 9.1 million N95 masks and students with four million three-ply face coverings in efforts to ensure safety from COVID-19 when they return to in-class learning on Jan. 17.

Ontario Education Minister Stephen Lecce and the province’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kieran Moore unveiled a series of protective measures at a news conference this afternoon they insist will ensure a safe return to school for students and staff.

In addition to the protective masks and two rapid test kits being supplied to every staff member and student, the Ontario government also promised the following protective measures:

  • 3,000 additional HEPA filter units for classrooms (in addition to 70,000 provided earlier)
  • rapid tests will be provided to all childcare centres and schools
  • launching of school-based vaccination clinics to improve uptake in children aged 5 to 11
  • cohorting protocols for lunch, recess and sports

The province has also added 10 dedicated vaccine clinics for educational and childcare workers, after calls to do so for over a year. But they are only in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area.

Today’s press conference came as a follow-up to Premier Doug Ford’s office letting it be known on Monday night that schools were definitely going to reopen on Jan. 17.

Ford previously pointed to the growing pressure on hospitals and a coming “tsunami” of COVID-19 cases when he announced the temporary shift to online learning on Jan. 3, which he had said would last until at least Jan. 17, depending on health indicators at the time.

On Tuesday, teachers unions and parents of school-aged children expressed safety concerns about the reopening plan since the government isn’t offering PCR tests for students and teachers unless they become symptomatic while at school.

A document from the Ministry of Health said those who develop symptoms at home are asked to isolate and not attend school.

Ontario students have had the most education loss — 26 weeks of classroom time, about two-thirds of a school year — of any jurisdiction in North America during the COVID-19 pandemic.

–with files from Canadian Press

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