Province’s return to in-person learning for student includes millions of rapid COVID-19 tests

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Province’s return to in-person learning for student includes millions of rapid COVID-19 tests's Profile


On Wednesday, Ontario announced the plan for a return to in-person learning for students.

Kids have been off school since the winter break.

Education Minister Stephen Lecce says students will be back in class on January 17.

Lecce says the two week online learning period this month gave them time to implement changes and deploy items such as non-fit-tested N95 masks for teachers.

Rapid COVID-19 tests will also arrive at schools by Monday.

Here is a breakdown of the return to in-person learning plan:

Testing

• Beginning the week of January 17, rapid antigen tests will be provided starting with staff in child care and public schools, children in child care settings, and students in public elementary schools, followed by secondary students.

• Two tests will be provided per staff/student, aligned with screening guidance for symptomatic individuals.

Over 3.9-million rapid antigen tests are being shipped to school boards this week, with additional tests to be delivered next week. The use of the tests is for symptomatic individuals, who will be required to take two rapid tests 24 hours apart, and upon negative results can return to class.

New school guidance from the province says that only certain students and teachers who show symptoms of COVID-19 will have access to PCR tests.

Take-home PCR self-collection kits will only be provided to elementary and secondary students as well as education staff who become symptomatic while at school.

PCR kits will not be provided to entire cohorts or school populations.

Reporting/Monitoring COVID‐19 in Schools

You may not know if there is a COVID-19 case at your child’s school or even in their class.

Schools will no longer routinely notify students if they’re exposed to a positive case, or if someone is absent due to COVID-19 symptoms.

Schools will monitor absenteeism and will notify the local public health unit when it reaches 30 per cent in a school.

However, that doesn’t mean there will be a school closure.

Vaccination

The province has already prioritized school staff for COVID-19 booster shots at education focused vaccination clinics.

About 82 per cent of Ontario kids aged 12 to 17 have received both doses.

However, for kids five to 11, only around half have had their first dose.

The province is launching school-based vaccine clinics for that age group.

The government has asked school boards to work with local Public Health Units to add school-day vaccination clinics for students.

In the coming days, parents will receive a form offering the opportunity to safely and conveniently provide public health units the authority to vaccinate their child at a school-based vaccine clinic.

Masks

The province is deploying more than 10-million non-fit-tested N95 masks to all education and child care staff.

More than four-million three-ply cloth masks for students recently shipped for use in schools.

Cohorting

The province says there will also be new time-limited cohorting protocols to limit direct and indirect contacts by pausing high-contact extra curricular sports, stricter lunch cohort requirements, and elevated cleaning requirements at all schools.

 

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