Targeted COVID-19 Rapid Antigen Screening to Keep Students SafePublished on October 06, 2021
Ontario is committed to keeping schools safe and open. That is why we are following the updated advice from the Chief Medical Officer of Health, by implementing another tool to protect students and staff. We have put in place a layered approach that aligns with the best advice of the Ontario Science Table — including a major emphasis on air ventilation improvement, indoor-masking, strict screening and the enhanced cleaning of schools.
Since the start of school, we strengthened testing options for students and staff, including launching a take-home test pilot for asymptomatic high school students, to increase presenteeism in class. While the CMOH continues to believe schools remain safe with a strong and effective program, we are not taking anything for granted — we are doing whatever it takes to keep schools open for the benefit of Ontario students.
Ontario’s new COVID-19 rapid antigen screening plan will build on our cautious plan for child care and school age children with the aim of keeping schools and childcare centres open.
- Local Medical Officers of Health at participating public health units will determine if rapid antigen screening will be available in parts of their region based on local factors and needs;
- Participation will be voluntary – parents can choose if their children will participate in this additional screening offered by their schools or licensed child care settings;
- Rapid antigen screening will be used for unvaccinated and asymptomatic students and children who are not high-risk contacts. Symptomatic or high-risk contacts will continue to access lab-based PCR testing (available at assessment centres and other collection centres);
- The rapid antigen test will be conducted at home with a test that has been provided along with relevant instructions.
We will continue to follow the best expert advice of the Chief Medical Officer of Health to ensure students continue learning in-class with their friends and educators. Nothing matters more.
With the support of the Chief Medical Officer of Health, the government is making COVID-19 rapid antigen screening available to public health units for them to deploy to targeted schools and child care centres.
We are committed to keeping schools safe and open.