Province bringing voluntary COVID testing to schools in Mississauga

 

The province is rolling out voluntary testing at schools in hard-hit regions such as Mississauga, Brampton and Toronto. 

On Nov. 26, Ontario Premier Doug Ford and Education Minister Stephen Lecce appeared in Mississauga to announce that the province will roll-out voluntary testing for asymptomatic students in regions with high rates of COVID transmission, including Toronto, Peel, York Region and Ottawa. 

The province also said that the government is providing $13.6 million to enable school boards to hire more teachers and staff in regions recently moved to the Red-Control level (such as Durham, Halton, Hamilton and Waterloo Region).

“Ensuring the safety of students, teachers and staff is our government’s top priority. That’s why we developed the most robust and comprehensive plan in the country to safely reopen schools,” said Ford in a statement.

“This plan is now giving us the flexibility to expand voluntary testing and provide additional funding to support all of our school boards in priority communities.”

The Ministry of Education, along with the Ministry of Health and Ontario Health, are working with participating school boards and local public health units to support the implementation of the voluntary testing program. The province says the initiative will make it easier to track and prevent the spread of COVID-19 in schools and perhaps inform public health decisions and help manage outbreaks.

The province says the $13.6 million for school boards in Red-Control areas will further enhance safety by promoting physical distancing with the hiring of more teachers and staff; increasing remote learning supports, and improving cleanliness with the hiring of additional custodians. 

For school boards across the province, the government is also providing funding stabilization to help alleviate some of the impacts of unexpected enrolment declines as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“We are building upon our plan to protect students, staff, and families by expanding funding, testing, and training, along with interactive learning supports, to keep our schools open and safe,” said Lecce in a statement.

“Expanding targeted testing will introduce a critical layer of prevention for schools in regions of the province that currently have a high number of active COVID-19 cases that will help ensure we continue to deliver safe and open schools for our kids.”

The government also announced the launch of two new learning portals developed in partnership with TVO and TFO. TVO Learn and TFO’s IDELLO, apprendre a la maison will support students who are self-screening, quarantining at home, or wishing to build their skills by accessing additional educational resources developed by Ontario certified teachers. 

The Ministry of Education is also developing a health and safety refresher for students for their first day of class in January 2021. 

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