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Targeted rapid COVID-19 testing at two Hamilton schools this weekend

HAMILTON, ON – City of Hamilton Public Health Services is working together with the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board (HWDSB) and the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board (HWCDSB) to offer targeted rapid COVID-19 testing at two local schools on Saturday, February 13, 2021.

From 9 am to 4 pm, Bishop Ryan Catholic Secondary School and Orchard Park Secondary School will be the sites for targeted rapid voluntary testing. Targeted rapid COVID-19 testing will be only available for asymptomatic students and staff of these two schools. Additionally, asymptomatic students and staff of neighbourhood schools Eastdale Elementary School and Winona Elementary School can register for a rapid test at Orchard Park Secondary School. These areas were identified as neighbourhoods where the uptake of testing is low, COVID-19 rates are higher and there has been a history of school outbreak.

The targeted testing initiative is voluntary and does not apply to any students or staff who have recently been advised by Hamilton Public Health Services to self-isolate or get COVID-testing at a local assessment centre, or for students who are enrolled in full-time online learning. This initiative is part of the Ontario Government’s targeted voluntary testing program for asymptomatic students and staff.

Following this weekend, Hamilton Public Health Services and the local school board partners will consider how these types of tests may be useful in the future.

School boards and Hamilton Public Health Services are requesting that media not attend the schools during the targeted testing to help reduce congregating and to protect the privacy of students and staff.

“We as a community recognize the importance of the return to in-person learning for our students in Hamilton. Along with other vital health and safety measures, such as daily screening, masking and increased hand hygiene, targeted asymptomatic testing at our schools is an added tool we may use where relevant for our community. We will continue to work collaboratively with our school board partners and the Ontario government to support the recommended enhanced health and safety measures to help safeguard our schools and community as we move forward.” - Dr. Elizabeth Richardson, Medical Officer of Health

“We are pleased to learn asymptomatic COVID-19 testing is starting in Hamilton. Testing is one more enhanced public health measure that we can use to identify the virus in our community and help make our schools safe places for in-person learning. We look forward to continuing our partnership with Hamilton Public Health Services and supporting targeted testing.” - Dawn Danko, Chair of the Board, HWDSB

“Throughout this pandemic, our priority concern has been the health, safety and well-being of our students and staff. This testing initiative, along with other recent health and safety measures, are welcome additions and provide another layer of protection as our schools reopen for in-person learning. We want to express our deep appreciation to Hamilton Public Health Services and the Ministry of Education for not only supporting the return to school but ensuring that all possible safeguards are in place to keep our students and staff healthy and safe.” - Patrick J. Daly, Chairperson, HWCDSB

Quick facts

  • Registration for the targeted rapid testing initiative can be found at the HWDSB and HWCDSB websites for applicable students and staff. Information about registration has also been sent by the boards to all students and staff at the targeted schools.
  • To enhance health and safety measures for the return to in-person learning, Ontario’s Ministry of Education has obtained mobile testing vendors to undertake rapid testing of asymptomatic students and staff in schools across the province. This support is not designed to test entire school communities, but rather to bring testing to areas where school boards and public health units identify a need.
  • This targeted testing will be voluntary for students and staff, and consent will be required from parents or guardians for students under 18 years old. Rapid antigen testing will be administered at the sites. Positive COVID-19 cases identified through the targeted rapid testing sites will be managed by Hamilton Public Health Services according to its established case management and contact tracing process.

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