Every public school in Toronto will have take-home COVID-19 test kits available by the end of the week.
City officials say the take-home PCR kits can be used when a student shows symptoms of the virus or if another student or staff member in their class has tested positive.
The test is administered by swabbing the tongue, cheek and inside the nostril, or through collecting saliva — as opposed to the nasopharyngeal swab commonly used for COVID-19 testing.
Once the test is complete, families can drop off the COVID-19 test at a local pop-up testing site or select schools for processing and results, which can take 24 to 48 hours.
PCR tests were distributed to some schools as part of a pilot project earlier this year. That project is now being expanded to serve the whole city.
The city says it’s the first program of its kind in Ontario, allowing for positive cases to be more easily identified before COVID-19 can spread.
The announcement comes as the Government of Ontario has recently announced its decision to lift COVID capacity limits for facilities requiring proof of COVID-19 immunization.
Starting at midnight, restaurants, gyms, casinos and other locations required to ask customers for proof of immunization could open to a full house.
Other spaces not subject to that provincial rule, like museums and galleries, places of worship and personal care services, were also permitted to open at full capacity if they required proof of vaccination.
Mayors of the largest municipalities in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area said they support the province’s move to lift capacity limits.
“This is a sign of the progress we have made across the GTHA and the entire province combatting COVID-19 and getting residents vaccinated,” the group said in a written statement following a meeting.
They also encouraged people to support local businesses, especially restaurants still struggling from losses they accumulated during the health crisis.
“Many businesses have a COVID hangover from the earlier stages of the pandemic and need our support by shopping, eating and drinking local,” the statement said.
Premier Doug Ford announced the changes on Friday as he unveiled long-term plans for managing the pandemic.
Those plans include aiming to remove all public health measures meant to slow the spread of COVID-19 by late March, including mask mandates.
Proof-of-vaccination requirements will start to be lifted early next year — as long as trends don’t become concerning — starting with restaurants, bars, gyms and casinos in January.
Mr. Ford described his approach to loosening restrictions as “super cautious” but some experts have noted that it’s hard to know what the situation in Ontario will be in January or March.
This post is also available in: Tiếng Việt