Planning underway to conduct asymptomatic testing at 40 different Toronto schools per week
Published Monday, February 15, 2021 1:18PM EST
Last Updated Tuesday, February 16, 2021 10:05AM EST
The Ministry of Education plans to conduct asymptomatic testing of students and staff at up to 40 different schools in Toronto per week as part of the resumption of in-person learning.
Schools in Toronto, Peel and York are expected to reopen tomorrow, allowing students to return to classes in person for the first time in 2021.
As part of the reopening of schools across Ontario, the province has promised to provide 50,000 PCR and rapid tests per week for the testing of asymptomatic staff and students.
The ministry says that in Toronto mobile testing clinics were set up at eight schools ahead of the resumption of classes. Planning, however, is underway to conduct asymptomatic testing in 40 schools per week moving forward.
Meanwhile in York Region there are plans to conduct asymptomatic testing at 16 different schools this week. The ministry says that in Peel Region mobile testing clinics have been set up at four schools and a communication went out last week advising all students and staff with symptoms to get tested prior to the resumption of in-person learning.
“You are not going to notice a lot of differences inside the classroom,” TDSB spokesperson Ryan Bird told CP24 on Monday afternoon. “When our students return they will see the same health and safety process and measures that we had in place since September and that is the physical distancing to the greatest extent possible, masking, enhanced cleaning and handwashing.”
Schools were closed following the holiday break as part of a provincewide lockdown that went into effect on Boxing Day.
But with community transmission on the wane, the province has been gradually reopening schools with a number of additional restrictions.
The new provincewide asymptomatic testing program comes after a pilot program in Toronto, Peel, York and Ottawa in December.
That program led to the discovery of a COVID-19 outbreak at Thorncliffe Park Public School, where more than two dozen positive cases involving staff and students were discovered.
“We are following the best medical advice to protect our schools. Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health approved our plan to reopen, which includes the expansion of province-wide asymptomatic testing, along with stricter screening and masking protocols for students and staff," Education Minister Stephen Lecce said in a statement provided to CP24. "We will continue to take action to protect Ontario’s students and staff by enhancing testing capacity – a critical layer of protection that is now accessible to even more families."
The location of schools that will undergo asymptomatic testing have not been released.