Ontario’s chief medical officer to announce rapid COVID-19 surveillance testing program in select schools

Ontario’s chief medical officer of health is set to make an announcement today about use of rapid COVID-19 tests in schools, after a month of confusion about their role in preventing widespread infection in children.

A source told CTV News Toronto on Monday that Dr. Kieran Moore’s announcement will reveal a plan to use rapid antigen COVID-19 tests on students in areas of the province with higher rates of infection.

The announcement comes after groups of parents had organized surveillance testing for their schools using the rapid test kits, but CP24 revealed the Ford government told two agencies to stop distributing them to anyone but businesses.

It also comes four weeks after CP24 reported that the province was shipping free rapid antigen test kits to private schools, a practice the Minister of Education’s office stopped after it was asked to comment on the policy.

Moore has said widespread asymptomatic surveillance testing in schools isn’t recommended because it isn’t an effective tool.

Public Health Ontario and the Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table both downplayed the efficacy of asymptomatic surveillance rapid testing of students in recent reports.

But neither body has commented on the ongoing use of asymptomatic surveillance testing in workplaces, many of which now contain high numbers of fully vaccinated people.

Outside of students attending high school in 13 public health units participating in a pilot program with the Ministry of Education, children in Ontario have no free options for asymptomatic testing.

Rapid antigen tests for students at pharmacies cost $40. Full PCR tests are only available to symptomatic children or those identified as a high-risk close contact of a confirmed case.

But he said last week that the province was working on an asymptomatic testing strategy for children.

Tuesday’s announcement gets underway at 8:45 a.m..

CTV News Toronto will broadcast it live on air and online.

Moore is also set to hold his usual weekly briefing on Thursday to update the province on the response to COVID-19.

View original article here Source