Over 200,000 self-administered COVID-19 rapid antigen tests are being sent out this week for immediate use in the K-12 sector. This initial allotment from the provincial government is specifically for use by school and district staff. They are being sent to districts early this week, with each district getting enough for two tests per staff member.
This first shipment of rapid tests will be for at-home use by symptomatic staff members to rule out COVID-19. They will not be used to determine if asymptomatic staff can attend school.
The Provincial Health Services Authority has another pending allotment of rapid tests. Once this allotment is confirmed, the Ministry of Education will roll out plans to expand rapid testing to students. It is expected more tests will arrive from the Government of Canada later in January that will support the expanded use of rapid tests within the sector.
Deployment and distribution to staff will be managed by the individual school districts. The tests will arrive prepackaged in boxes of five, so they will need to be repacked on by school districts into sets of two. This may cause a slight delay in getting them to staff.
Once ready, the Ministry of Education is recommending they be given out to staff to take home, so they are immediately available when needed. The tests will come to staff with a letter including guidance on when to use them, instructions on how to use the tests properly, and direction on what to do in the case of a positive or negative result.
These rapid antigen tests being provided are in addition to existing testing in the province, available for individuals when recommended by public health.
All other existing safety protocols and practices in schools should also be maintained.
Rapid testing resources
Understanding Test Results – Find out what your COVID-19 test results mean. BCCDC
Rapid antigen at-home test instructions for K-12 School District/Authority Staff. Ministry of Education
COVID-19 Rapid Antigen Test Deployment – Information for the K-12 Sector. Ministry of Education bulletin