In Ottawa, COVID-19 testing at schools has already begun.
Pop-up test clinics have been held for the last three weekends that served a combined total of 47 schools from all boards. More pop ups are planned for the next two weekends, says the Ottawa Catholic School Board.
The clinics at schools are open to both asymptomatic and symptomatic students and staff as well as their family members.
“We believe that the weekend testing is consistent with what the Ministry of Education has directed school boards to do,” said Ottawa Public Health in a statement. Family members were invited to be tested because the source of virus transmission for many students is within their home, said OPH.
Symptomatic people were included to help overcome barriers that might prevent some families from going for testing by having the clinic in the community at a trusted place like a school, said OPH.
In the memo, Lecce encouraged boards to chose schools in areas with high cases numbers and transmission of COVID-19 or where it may be difficult for people to access regular test sites. Ottawa Public Health used similar criteria in deciding where to hold its pop-up school sites.
The memo also said school boards could consider whether their own staff could do the testing if provided with training.
Boards can also ask the Ministry of Education to assign a vendor to conduct testing, said the memo. GVT Labs has begun testing in some schools, and other vendors will also be used, the ministry said.
In California, some school districts are running pilot projects that feature elementary school children testing themselves for COVID-19 twice a week.
Ontario says school testing is being expanded in other areas, too. School staff with no symptoms can go to a pharmacy to get a COVID-19 test.
That will be especially valuable for staff who work in multiple classes, schools or boards, said the memo.
This content was originally published here.