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School boards looking at setting up COVID-19 testing

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Local school boards are putting plans in place for voluntary testing for students.

The four boards; Conseil scolaire catholique NouvelonRainbow District School BoardSudbury Catholic District School Board and Conseil scolaire public du Grand Nord de l’Ontario are co-ordinating the clinics with the Ministry of Education by geographic area.

The boards state the testing will be voluntary and coordinated with Public Health Sudbury & Districts.

Medical officer of health, Dr. Penny Sutcliffe says it will require parental consent for those under the age of 18, as well as households and staff.

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The school boards will share the dates, times and locations of COVID-19 clinics with their school communities.

The clinics will also be open to families who have children in child-care and before and after school programs at the testing site.

A third-party service provider will administer the rapid tests.

Positive results from the rapid tests will be referred to the assessment centre for further testing. As required under Public Health legislation, positive results from the rapid tests will also be sent to Public Health Sudbury & Districts for follow up.

Participants will schedule an appointment with the service provider online. The service provider will obtain the necessary consent. Walk-ins will be accepted on a limited basis. Students under 18 years of age will require parent/guardian consent for testing. All testing sites will run in a COVID-safe manner.

“School and in-person learning is an essential priority. We are fortunate to be able to continue to offer in-person learning in our area and it’s vital we protect it,” adds Dr. Penny Sutcliffe, medical officer of health with Public Health Sudbury & Districts. “Schools give children stable daily routines, nutrition programs, physical activity opportunities, and social connections that are essential for emotional well being.

“Locally, Public Health and school boards are working together to ensure infection prevention protocols are in place. Surveillance testing is yet another important tool that can help keep our schools safe. Everyone’s top priority is the health and safety of students and school staff.”

This targeted testing is not open to any students or staff who have recently been advised by Public Health that they must self-isolate or seek COVID-19 testing, or remote learners. The testing will supplement infection prevention protocols in place in schools such as screening, hand washing, masking, cohorting and physical distancing.

Hosting clinics by geographic area will maximize resources and testing capacity, ensuring as many individuals as possible can take advantage of the opportunity. The results will provide a snapshot of COVID-19 within a pocket of the community. Information about asymptomatic testing clinics will be posted on school board websites.

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