Kawartha Lakes area parents will soon get the chance to have their asymptomatic children tested for COVID-19 if they wish.
At the recent Trillium Lakelands District School Board meeting, Director of Education Wes Hahn shared details regarding the changes in testing and screening mandated by the province, soon to be rolled out by the HKPR District Health Unit, private labs, and TLDSB.
“We are working with LifeLabs, the ministry and the public health units to put together a plan for asymptomatic testing,” Hahn said. “We are looking to rotate the testing through the entire district a block of schools at a time. This will be run by LifeLabs, a ministry recommended partner,” he said, referencing the private healthcare company.
“Parents are going to have to register their child for testing,” Hahn continued, “and testing will be done at the school site. There will be a 24-72 hour turnaround on the test results. If there is a positive test, public health will be informed and the appropriate students or staff will need to isolate. Other areas have already begun their testing and it is running smoothly.”
Hahn also told trustees that there will be a change in ministry rules for self-screening that parents and their children are supposed to be doing on a daily basis. The ministry has now determined that instead of the previous threshold of two COVID-like symptoms to keep a child home from school, now only one symptom is needed to require self-isolation.
“This has become very complex for principals and parents,” Hahn said. “This new screening process is causing frustration. One symptom is now supposed to trigger the student isolating themselves from others. We are trying our best to support families and keep a tight control on the virus and its variants. The board is spending quite a bit of time on these issues.”
Trustee John Byrne wondered why the board isn’t using the “rapid tests” that can return a result in two to three hours. Byrne was very concerned that with test results taking two to three days to be confirmed, that it “is a long time for a kid to be running around a school with COVID.”
“We will err on the side of accuracy,” Hahn said. “The PCR tests offered by LifeLabs are more accurate. Rates in the schools are very low so we want the most accurate results we can get.”