Ontario’s publicly funded school boards are reporting 121 new cases of COVID-19 today but the increase in lab-confirmed infections that accompanied the resumption of classes last month appears to be slowing.

The Ministry of Education says that there were another 106 student cases and 15 staff cases reported in a 24-hour period ending Wednesday afternoon.

However, that number is down from the 158 school-related cases reported over the same time period last week.

The rolling seven-day average of new cases associated with the school system has declined by about 10 per cent week over week and now stands at 116.7.

The number of active cases involving school-aged children and staff also appears to have plateaued for now after rising rapidly though much of September.

As of today there are 1,412 active cases associated with the school system, accounting for nearly one-third of Ontario’s overall active caseload.

At this time last week there were 1,444 active cases.

Ontario is still seeing a higher number of lab-confirmed infections associated with the school system than it was at this time last year when there were just 541 active cases.

But officials have said that they believe transmission within schools has been “minimal” and that as case counts decrease in the wider community they will among students and education workers well.

Meanwhile, Ontario is preparing to roll out a rapid testing program in select schools at the highest risk of closure due to COVID-19 spread as soon as next week.

Local public health units will be able to deploy the rapid antigen test kits to schools deemed “high-risk” due to the ongoing detection of cases, an outbreak, the prevalence of COVID-19 in the surrounding community, or a combination of all three.

“We are in conversation with other health units, our school board partners and our provincial partners to determine how and when these tests might be best implemented,” Peel Region’s Medical Officer of Health Dr. Lawrence Loh told reporters during a briefing on Thursday morning.

“Under certain circumstances rapid antigen testing can complement other preventative interventions already in place, such as screening, masking, cohorting and dismissals. However, we want to ensure that tests are deployed in the most optimal fashion possible.”

According to the latest data there are eight schools across Ontario that have been closed due to COVID-19 outbreaks, however hundreds of individual classroom cohorts are self-isolating as a precaution.

A total of 780 Ontario schools currently have at least one active COVID-19 case, down from 819 at this time last week.

“I ask all parents to continue to help us by remaining vigilant,” Loh said. “Please don’t send your children to school if they are sick and please ensure they are tested and stay home if they have any symptoms. Also, if your child is 12 to 17 years old and eligible to receive a vaccine make sure they receive two doses. Your diligence will help to keep our students in school and in person.”