The Near North District School Board confirms its students will receive two rapid antigen tests as classes resume following two weeks of remote learning to lead off the new year.
Education Minister Stephen Lecce said Wednesday the tests will "empower" families.
"That is going to be a layer of protection that we didn't have," he stated during an announcement alongside Ontario's Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kieran Moore. "That is going to help empower parents with greater certainty to know if they have the virus."
Moore added the rapid tests will aid in getting staff and students back to schools faster if — taken 24 to 48 hours apart — come back negative and their symptoms improve. Rapid antigen tests are only to be used if a student is exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19.
The Ministry of Education announced it will be providing families with rapid antigen tests to "assist in keeping schools safe for students and staff."
The local board advises it will be distributing all the rapid antigen tests it has received. "Schools and board offices do not have a stock of tests. More tests will be distributed once NNDSB receives more."
Earlier in the week, the board provided an update on return to school policies.
Music programs and school sports will not resume immediately, according to a letter to families from NNDSB.
"On the advice of Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health and the local health unit, indoor high contact and high-intensity activities (such as wrestling, basketball, multi-cohort choirs and wind instrument ensembles, for example) have been paused. For the week of Jan. 17, all extra-curricular activities and practices will be paused. All interschool sports will be paused until Jan. 31, pending review by the health unit and co-terminus school boards."
Effective Monday, Jan. 17, it is mandatory that all JK/SK students wear masks. High-quality, three-ply masks will be made available for all students at all schools, in addition to medical-grade masks, if needed. Non-fit-tested N95 masks will be available for all staff.
And, NNDSB reminds all staff and students they will be required to confirm they have successfully self-screened every day before going to school.