School boards work together on voluntary asymptomatic testing for COVID-19

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SUDBURY – Voluntary asymptomatic testing for COVID-19 will be offered to in-person learners, their households and households and staff in schools in Sudbury, Espanola and Manitoulin Island. School boards will share the dates, times and location of COVID-19 clinics with their school communities. The clinics will also be open to families who have children in childcare and before and after school programs at the testing site.

A March 2 press release outlines how Rainbow District School Board, Conseil Scolaire Catholique Nouvelon, Sudbury Catholic District School Board and Conseil Scolaire Public du Grand Nord de l’Ontario are co-ordinating the clinics with the Ministry of Education by geographic area.

According to the release, a third-party service provider will administer the rapid test. Positive results from the rapid tests will be referred to the assessment centre for further testing. As required under public health legislation, positive results from the rapid tests will also be sent to Public Health Sudbury and Districts (PHSD) for follow-up.

Participants will schedule an appointment with the service provider online. The service provider will obtain the necessary consent. Walk-ins will be accepted on a limited basis. Students under 18 years of age will require parent/guardian consent for testing. All testing sites will run in a COVID-safe manner.

“School and in-person learning is an essential priority. We are fortunate to be able to continue to offer in-person learning in our area and it’s vital we protect it,” said Dr. Penny Sutcliffe, PHSD medical officer of health. “Schools give children stable daily routines, nutrition programs, physical activity opportunities and social connections that are essential for emotional well-being.” 

“School settings also help to build children’s skills and shape mental and physical health,” continued Dr. Sutcliffe. “Locally, public health and school boards are working together to ensure infection prevention protocols are in place. Surveillance testing is yet another important tool that can help keep our schools safe. Everyone’s top priority is the health and safety of students and school staff.” 

This targeted testing is not open to any students or staff who have recently been advised by public health that they must self-isolate or seek COVID-19 testing, or remote learners.

The testing will supplement infection prevention protocols in place in schools such as screening, hand washing, masking, cohorting and physical distancing.

Hosting clinics by geographic area will maximize resources and testing capacity, ensuring as many individuals as possible can take advantage of the opportunity. The results will provide a snapshot of COVID-19 within a pocket of the community.

Information about asymptomatic testing clinics will be posted on school board websites including rainbowschools.ca.