The Maple Ridge Pitt Meadows School District is expecting to have rapid antigen test kits as early as next week for use by staff experiencing COVID-19 symptoms.
On Thursday, Jan. 20, the Ministry of Education announced that 200,000 test kits were being shipped to school districts across the province.
The kits are to be used by teachers, staff, and administrators in the kindergarten to Grade 12 sector who are experiencing symptoms of the COVID-19 virus.
Irena Pochop, spokesperson for SD42, said they don’t know the exact number of tests the district will be receiving.
“But we do anticipate we will be able to assemble kits that include two rapid tests per staff member,” she said.
Once the kits are assembled, Pochop added, they will be sending them out to schools to distribute to staff.
The number of teaching and non-teaching staff in each school district will determine the number of tests the school districts – in addition to independent schools and First Nations schools – will be receiving, reported the Ministry.
There are approximately 86,700 public school employees, 16,000 employees of independent schools and 1,000 employees in First Nation schools, across the province.
The test kits were supplied by Artron Laboratories Inc., a Burnaby-based company.
“Rapid antigen tests are an additional tool that can be used to support the continuity of learning in schools with the aim to reduce transmission of COVID-19,” noted the Ministry.
The Ministry of Health and the Office of the Public Health Officer continue to direct how rapid antigen tests are best used as part of the provincial pandemic response, including if additional tests will be deployed for use in the K-12 sector.
Work with experts on improving ventilation systems, including the use of HEPA filters in classrooms that do not have access to mechanical ventilation systems, will be continuing with the Ministry of Education.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, the provincial has invested $114.5 million to help school districts upgrade the ventilation in thousands of classrooms across B.C..
The province noted that additional funding to support further ventilation improvements and upgrades in K-12 public schools will soon be made available.
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