Rapid tests coming to Ontario schools but not all of them

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The Ford government is poised to unveil plans for rapid testing in schools.

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Dr. Kieran Moore, the province’s chief medical officer, will reveal the details at a news conference at Queen’s Park just before 9 a.m. on Tuesday.

Opposition parties and parent groups have been calling for the widespread use of rapid antigen tests as a way to keep schools safe and free of COVID-19.

The provincial plan, though, won’t include the widespread use of testing, something Dr. Moore has been telegraphing for weeks.

Instead, Dr. Moore will unveil a plan to use rapid antigen tests on a limited basis in schools where community transmission is high.

“It would be difficult for us to test 2 million children every day or twice a week or three times a week,” Moore said at one of his recent updates. “So we’re trying to have a strategy where if the community rate is rising — like it is in some of our areas in Ontario — and there are certain schools that continue to have outbreaks or high absenteeism, that’s an environment where I think having a test to stay in the class … may be very, very helpful to keep children in the classroom.”

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PHO estimates that testing 500,000 students per day would lead to between 500 and 2,500 false positives per day. Each of those students getting a false positive on a rapid test would then be sent for a PCR test to see if there is an infection, while students in class with the student who tested “positive” could be sent into isolation.

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Moore has said he wants to use rapid tests in high-risk areas of the province where it would help keep schools open. Based on current infection rates, the tests would most likely be deployed to public health units in eastern Ontario, Chatham-Kent, Windsor, Peel and Brant County.

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