Catholic school board discusses plan for targeted COVID-19 testing
KITCHENER -- The Waterloo Catholic District School Board laid out its expected plan for targeted COVID-19 testing when students return to the classroom.
Students have been learning remotely since before the winter break and won't return to the classroom until at least Feb. 10.
Trustees heard some details about the testing plan at a meeting on Monday night.
"It will be directed towards schools that potentially are experiencing an outbreak or where there's a higher incidence of cases being identified," said Loretta Notten, director of the Waterloo Catholic District School Board. "It's optional, no one will be forced to take a COVID test."
Notten added there will be "pop-up centres" to help with testing in schools.
The union representing local Catholic teachers is concerned.
"I don't know who would do this testing, who would interpret the test," OECTA President Patrick Etmanski said.
The region said there are 25 public health nurses leading cases, contacts and outbreaks in Waterloo Region's schools. There are also 10 Ministry of Health staff assisting with contact tracing on school-related cases.
Notten said the testing will likely be done by private companies contracted by the province.
Staff and high school students also need to perform mandatory self-screening before heading to the classroom.
"Presumably, if someone fails the screen, they will be sent home," Notten said.
Etmanski said it's still not clear how the self-screening will be enforced.
The region's medical officer of health said they don't know specifics about the measures yet.
"We are awaiting to hear more information from the province and will be working closely with our local school boards to determine how these measures will be implemented," a statement from Dr. Hsiu-Li Wang said in part.
Notten noted an earlier pilot project targeting testing in COVID-19 hotspots in the province, which found a two per cent positivity rate. The targeted testing included students, staff and family members.
With reporting by CTV News Kitchener's Nicole Lampa