Ontario Children Aged Five to 11 Now Eligible to Receive Pfizer COVID-19 Vaccine
Rapid Testing Kits for Students
Please note: rapid testing kits will be distributed to students over the next few weeks. Instructions on how to take the test are available here.
In an effort to promote a safer return to the classroom after the winter break, on behalf of the Government of Ontario, the LDCSB is pleased to be able to provide take-home rapid antigen screening kits to every child who attends a publicly-funded school in Ontario.
The rapid antigen screening kits are intended for use by any child that attends a publicly funded school, regardless of their vaccination status. Rapid antigen screening kits are to be distributed to students who participate in in-person learning. This testing option will not be available to students who have been learning remotely since September 2021, adult learners, and continuing education students.
Please note, your child’s participation in this rapid antigen screening is voluntary. Students are not required to participate in order to return to the classroom after the winter break.
While providing students with rapid antigen screening kits is an important tool for managing the spread of COVID-19, vaccination remains the most effective protection against the virus and its variants. Ensuring that children and youth are vaccinated will provide them with a strong level of protection and help to keep schools open and as safe as possible.
It also is important to remember that we all need to continue with key public health strategies that have been effective in keeping this pandemic under control, including staying home when sick, getting tested if you have symptoms, washing your hands frequently and wearing a face covering as required.
Please read the important information below prior to using the rapid antigen screening kit.
When to Use the Rapid Antigen Screening Kit (distributed prior to the winter break):
- For students who choose to use rapid antigen screening kits, it is recommended students conduct the rapid antigen tests every 3-4 days over the holiday break, on every Monday and Thursday beginning December 23, until all five tests have been used.
- Rapid antigen screening kits are only to be used when a child is asymptomatic ( does not have any symptoms of COVID-19 and has not had any exposure to a confirmed case of COVID-19).
- Anyone with symptoms or who is identified as a close contact of a case should still get PCR testing. Rapid antigen screening tests should not be used as a substitute for PCR tests for people with symptoms or for people who are close contacts of cases.
Using the Take-Home Rapid Antigen Screening Kit:
- The BTNX Rapid Response™ can be performed using anterior nasal swabbing (per the package insert, as approved by Health Canada) or using deep nasal swabbing (as recommended by Public Health Ontario in this document, given higher sensitivity compared to anterior nasal swabbing). Both types of specimen collection can be performed using the NP swab provided with the kit.
- Please follow the instructions provided with this letter.
- Important note: Parents or guardians may choose to administer this screening on children who may need help (i.e., younger children).
What to do after your test:
- You will know the outcome of the test within 15 minutes. If test results conducted so far are negative, your child may attend school as usual. Even if your child tests negative, they should continue to adhere to all relevant public health guidance, such as guidance on gathering, distancing, and masking.
- A positive result on a rapid antigen screening test is considered a preliminary positive. A child that receives a positive result on a rapid antigen screening test should seek a confirmatory PCR test as soon as possible (ideally within 48 hours) at a local testing site or pharmacy that offers testing and isolate themselves until the result of that confirmatory PCR test are known.
At this time, community use will only operate on weekdays from Monday to Friday. No weekend access at this time. We will re-evaluate as we slowly reopen schools to community groups.
2021-22 LDCSB School Guidelines At A Glance
Detailed guidelines and protocols for LDCSB students and staff regarding the upcoming school year are posted here (and are below). Here is a quick glance giving some of the main highlights:
August 31, 2021 Guidance from Local Health Units (Additional COVID-19 Preventive Measures for School Settings in London, Middlesex, Oxford, Elgin, and St. Thomas)
- Masking required for all students, including those in kindergarten
- No school assemblies
- Elementary only: Masks required outdoors for students if physical distancing cannot be maintained between cohorts
- Mandatory daily self-screening required for all students and staff
- Masking and other Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) required for staff
- Enhanced cleaning and disinfection protocols, including hand sanitizer in schools
- Assigned seating on school buses
- Elementary only: cohorting of students to reduce number of contacts
- No visitors
- Virtual meetings whenever possible
- Secondary only: in-person learning five days each week
- Secondary only: Quadmester (two courses each day)
- Libraries and computer labs
- Water bottle refilling stations will be open where possible.
- Students may leave and return to school during the day (appointment, lunch, etc.)
- Clubs, activities, sport teams, bands, and extra-curriculars (with restrictions)
- Gyms, change rooms, etc. (for certain activities)
- Music programs (with restrictions)
- Elementary only: cubbies, outdoor playground equipment can be used
- Elementary only: Before and After School Programs
- Secondary only: lockers, labs and cafeterias can be used
- Field trips
- Food programs (hot lunch, etc.)
The LDCSB will allow a cautious return to athletic programs in secondary schools. All participants must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 - if eligible - as the health and well-being of our students and their families is paramount. We continue to work closely with and take direction from our local public health units during this ever-evolving pandemic.
At this time, the Ministry of Education guidelines for Ontario school boards state that it intends to introduce a vaccination disclosure policy for all publicly funded school board employees, with rapid antigen testing requirements for staff who are not immunized against COVID-19. Completion of a COVID-19 vaccination educational session is also part of the requirements.
The LDCSB is not at liberty to disclose personal health care information about staff, including but not limited to an individual’s vaccination status. Regardless of vaccination status, all LDCSB staff are required to follow health and safety protocols related to COVID-19 as determined by local public health authorities, the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Labour.