COVID-19 testing to take place weekends, evenings for Waterloo Region students
KITCHENER -- New details are emerging on what the targeted COVID-19 testing systems are going to look like for students in Waterloo Region.
Trustees with the region's public board discussed the matter at length on Monday evening.
A new and enhanced testing system will happen outside of school hours, including on weekends.
For the first week, targeted asymptomatic testing will be run out of current pop-up testing sites at Kingsdale Community Centre and Victoria Hills Community Centre.
Both the public and Catholic boards will invite asymptomatic students and staff from specific schools in order to meet the Ministry of Education mandated targets of testing six public and two Catholic schools a week.
Afterwards, the Waterloo Region District School Board says they're looking at a school hub model.
“Where a larger school facility would be the host testing site and schools in the surrounding neighbourhoods, being mindful of access, would be invited to attend that site in order to conduct the testing,” said WRDSB superintended Bill Lemon during meeting.
A third party vendor, yet to be named, will do the testing.
The WRDSB released a list of schools offering targeted testing this week. The schools are located in the Kingsdale and Victoria Hills areas. It's voluntary and free of charge.
The schools are:
- AR Kaufman Public School
- Eastwood Collegiate Institute
- Empire Public School
- Howard Robertson Public School
- JF Carmichael Public School
- King Edward Public School
- Kitchener-Waterloo Collegiate Institute
- Queen Elizabeth Public School
- Queensmount Public School
- Rockway Public School
- Sunnyside Public School
- Westmount Public School
- Wilson Avenue Public School
They'll use the pop-up testing sites already in place in those neighbourhoods.
The Catholic board says testing will take place on Saturdays. For the public board, it will be weekends and possibly evenings.
“We decided we did not want to further interrupt the teaching learning flow any more than that is already happening in our current learning environment,” said Loretta Notten, director of education at the Waterloo Catholic District School Board.
The WCDSB will offer testing for:
- Resurrection CSS / St. John CES / St. Dominic CES
- Mary’s H.S. / Blessed Sacrament CES
- Our Lady of Grace CES / St. Bernadette CES / St. Daniel CES
- Doyle CSS / Holy Spirit CES
- Gregory CES / St. Vincent de Paul CES
“During the test day and the natural workings, rhythms of the school day, there was a genuine worry about congregation and really creating gatherings that were unnecessary and potentially risky,” added Lemon.
Testing will only be offered to asymptomatic students and staff and not to their families. It's voluntary and the costs are covered by the Ministry of Education.
As for what types of tests will be used, the goal will be to use the least invasive methods possible.
However, there are concerns about limited supply of rapid antigen and saliva tests, it could mean that PCR tests may be used, which would involve the nasal swab.
Raising questions, about whether that will impact participation rates.
“I guess as a parent, I would like to know what type of test my child is having before I volunteered my child,” said trustee Jayne Herring.
A meeting is planned for Tuesday night involving both school boards and the company that will be providing the testing to iron out more of the specific details.