TORONTO — New school guidance from the Ontario government says that only certain students and teachers who show symptoms of COVID-19 will have access to PCR tests when schools reopen to in-person learning next week.
The Ministry of Health document says take-home PCR self-collection kits will only be provided to elementary and secondary students as well as education staff who become symptomatic while at school.
The test kits will only be given to students or staff who have fever or chills, a cough, shortness of breath or a loss of taste or smell, or two or more of the less common symptoms such as a runny nose, sore throat or muscle aches.
The ministry says PCR kits will not be provided to entire cohorts or school populations.
The document says those waiting for the result of a COVID-19 test, or who cannot access a test, must isolate at home regardless of vaccination status, along with others in their household.
The new guidance comes as Premier Doug Ford’s office says Ontario students will return to school classrooms on Jan. 17.
The government says that due to widespread transmission and the inability to test all symptomatic individuals, schools will not be routinely notifying students if they are exposed to a positive case, or if a child or student or staff is absent due to symptoms associated with COVID-19.
This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.