To support the return to school plan, the Ministry of Education intends to introduce a vaccination disclosure policy for all publicly-funded school board employees and staff in private schools as well as for all staff in licensed child care settings for the 2021-22 school year, with rapid antigen testing requirements for staff who are not immunized against COVID-19.
Ottawa Public Health (OPH), working with partners at CHEO, is offering free take-home COVID-19 testing kits for students and staff at specific schools in Ottawa who develop symptoms of COVID-19 or are identified as a high-risk contact. Getting tested is an important step to identify COVID-19 and help stop the spread of the virus in the school and in our community.
The take-home test kits include a combined mouth and nose swab that a child or adult can do themselves, or that can be done by a parent/guardian or caregiver. This test is less invasive and more comfortable than the usual COVID-19 test and takes only seconds to complete. The take-home test kits will include detailed instructions about how to do the test, how to fill out the form included in the kit, labelling and storing the test sample, and where to return it.
The test kits are available at the schools opening this week and next week, and planning is underway to make them available at approximately 80 additional prioritized schools when they return in late August or early September. The initial round of schools selected for inclusion are based on a prioritization that considers COVID-19 experience in the schools over the past year (e.g. COVID-19 outbreaks) and rates in the neighbourhoods where they are located. OPH and partners will work to expand to the remaining schools over the following months.
For more information on schools please visit the OPH Supporting Schools webpage.