Rapid COVID-19 tests are now being offered at selected Calgary schools to help assess students with no symptoms.
Over 100,000 kits will be available for the rapid testing in schools pilot program, as tests will be offered every week for up to three weeks to screen students.
“We are piloting rapid testing in schools with outbreaks as part of our commitment to safely continue in-person learning. Rapid testing can possibly offer a close to real-time check on the situation in an entire school experiencing an outbreak. Every day a student is able to attend school in-person is a win during the pandemic,” said the Minister of Education, Adriana LaGrange.
Results from the first three weeks of the pilot will inform how the pilot program can be successfully expanded to include more schools and regions in the weeks ahead.
“This new pilot program is a significant expansion in rapid testing, and we are not stopping. These tests are a vital tool in preventing the spread of COVID-19 and breaking the chains of transmission. We will continue expanding the rollout and hope to offer many more tests to other businesses and sectors,” said the Minister of Health, Tyler Shandro.
A testing team will set up at each participating school. Staff must sign a consent form and students must have a consent form signed by their parents or guardians to get tested.
The pilot program will help to determine the effectiveness of using rapid screening tests to manage outbreaks in schools. It will also evaluate the benefits of using rapid tests to reduce the risk of transmission in schools experiencing outbreaks by quickly identifying individuals who may have COVID-19 but do not have symptoms.
Students and staff who do not have symptoms, and have not been identified as close contacts, can get tested while attending school.
The rapid test results may be available at the school within an hour. Any students and staff who get a positive result after a rapid test will not be able to return to class and will isolate.
Positive results from rapid tests are considered preliminary and must be confirmed with an additional PCR test at an Alberta Health Services assessment centre.
“We are pleased that the government has heard the consistent call from teachers and is now taking action to introduce rapid COVID-19 testing in Alberta’s schools. Schools are the backbone of our communities and providing testing in schools is essential to keep all Albertans safe and to help public health authorities and schools respond to future outbreaks involving students, staff, and their families,” said the President of the Alberta Teachers’ Association, Jason Schilling.