Targeted COVID-19 Rapid Antigen Screening to Keep Students Safe

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TORONTO — Ontario is improving access to local targeted COVID-19 rapid antigen screening by making it available for students through participating public health units where risk of transmission is high. By expanding access to rapid antigen screening, the Ontario government is helping to keep schools and licensed child care settings open and safe for children and students.

The program will support access to voluntary, rapid asymptomatic screening for unvaccinated children and students. This will help identify and prevent transmission in schools and licensed child care settings, as identified by local medical officers of health based on local epidemiological circumstances. This school-based program is in keeping with current provincial guidance for rapid antigen screening and based on advice from Public Health Ontario, the Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table, and Ontario’s Testing Strategy Expert Panel and is focused on screening of children in public health units with the highest risk of transmission.

Routine rapid antigen screening of fully vaccinated individuals and children is not currently recommended given the effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccines as well as the risks posed to the disruption of learning as a result of false positives.

“By improving ventilation in Ontario schools and taking further action through the introduction of a targeted rapid antigen screening program, we are helping to keep schools safer and open,” said Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education. “We are following updated advice from the Chief Medical Officer of Health by introducing a targeted testing program, at the direction of local medical officers of health, in areas where rates of transmission are high. Ontario’s plan is focused on minimizing disruption and maximizing safe, in-class learning, supported by major improvements in mechanical ventilation and 70,000 HEPA and other ventilation devices in learning spaces.”

While vaccines and existing classroom prevention strategies – such as masking, cohorting and daily symptom screening measures – remain key defences against COVID-19, screening and testing remain important tools in protecting against the spread of COVID-19. In addition, in September 2021, the Ministry of Education launched a targeted, PCR-based self-collection pilot for vaccinated high school students identified as high-risk close contacts of a confirmed case of COVID-19 to support testing participation and a timely return to school. Limiting the spread of COVID-19 is critical to ensuring that schools and child care centres remain safe and open to support working families.

“Targeted asymptomatic screening has the potential to detect cases in schools earlier and reduce the risk of outbreaks and closures, particularly in communities across the province that have a high prevalence of active COVID-19 cases,” said Dr. Kieran Moore, Chief Medical Officer of Health. “Expanding access to rapid antigen screening may be another way to help keep schools safer and students in the classroom. I continue to encourage everyone who has yet to get their first or second dose of the COVID-19 vaccination to do so as soon as you can to increase our level of community immunity and protect our students and young Ontarians who are not yet eligible to receive the vaccine.”

COVID-19 rapid antigen screening for child care and school age children will proceed as follows:

  • Based on the guidance of the Chief Medical Officer of Health, local Medical Officers of Health will continue to monitor local COVID-19 transmission and vaccination rates to identify when to implement rapid antigen screening in parts of their region based on local factors and needs.
  • 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.
  • Where the local public health unit has identified schools or child care centres that would benefit from this screening, rapid antigen screening tests will be made available. Parents will be able to choose if their unvaccinated asymptomatic children will participate in this screening offered by their schools or licensed child care settings.
  • Unvaccinated children participating in the program will be able to conduct the rapid antigen screening at home with instructions.
  • Children who receive a positive result will be required to seek a confirmatory lab-based PCR test at a local assessment centre or specimen collection centre and isolate until the result of that lab-based PCR test is known. Children who receive a negative result on a rapid antigen screening test will be able to continue in-person learning. More detailed information including duration and frequency will follow.

The Ministry of Education will continue to work with the Chief Medical Officer of Health and local public health units to assess key indicators, such as vaccination rates and community transmission, to inform and update provincial guidance for schools and child care as needed.

7 COMMENTS

  1. If you actually cared about the health of these children why were all the international recommendations of closing the border ignored?
    Why did you allow many weekly flights from Wuhan land in Canada?
    Why were our children forced to stay home, isolate and do online learning while “essential” foreign students were allowed to come and go with no isolation requirements because they were “essential”.
    Wake up people, none of this is truly or exclusively about safety.
    Wait until you see what’s going to happen this winter.
    Meanwhile, so many kids in town have been trying to get vaccinated but can’t because if you’re under 18 only Pfizer can be used (which is only 30-40% effective after 8 months), and Pfizer is in short supply in SSM. Where’s Terry the polkaroo now that he’s elected? He’s disappeared again. Shocker.

  2. Imagine in 10 years time it is declared that there is a ‘depression pandemic’, and for the better health of yourself and those around you, you must get your anti-depression implant in order to return back to work, and without your implant passport you will not be allowed into bars, restaurants, etc. Those that have already had the implant call you ‘anti-Science’ and publicly ridicule you as a second-class citizen. The President at the time publicly declares “our patience is running thin”, as pressure ramps up to combat yet another infectious wave of depression.

    The government promises “the implant will only be used to track and trace contact with those suspected of having depression”, but soon the police realise that such technology could also be used in “exceptional” criminal cases, where your state of mind around the place of the crime can be submitted as evidence to your involvement. Once there is some acceptance and legal standing, the use becomes more and more common place. Eventually some smart people realize that there is some pattern of behaviour for people who are about to commit a crime, and so pre-crime arrests and thought-crimes arise.

    The future has never looked so safe!

  3. Keep your hands off our children!!! 700,000 adverse effects already reported… kids in our hospital with heart attacks from the gene therapy. I look forward to the mass arrests coming.

  4. Despite the fact that all the antivaxxers are obviously unemployed and never leave their basements, I am EXTREMELY scared of them.

    I really hope we can consider rolling out enforcement squads to verify your vaccination status like RIDE programs.

    Hail Trudeau!

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