This week, 200,000 rapid antigen test kits are being shipped to the kindergarten-to-Grade 12 (K-12) sector for use by staff, teachers and administrators with symptoms of COVID-19.
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.
The number of teaching and non-teaching staff will determine the number of tests received by each school district, independent schools and First Nation schools. In B.C., there are approximately 86,700 public school employees, 16,000 employees of independent schools and 1,000 employees in First Nation schools.
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.
The allocation of test kits for the K-12 sector was received from Artron Laboratories Inc., a Burnaby-based company, and is in addition to supplies provided to medical health officers in health authorities that will continue to be used to investigate clusters and outbreaks in schools.
The Ministry of Education continues to engage with experts on ventilation and work with school districts to improve ventilation systems, including the deployment of HEPA filters in classrooms that do not have access to mechanical ventilation systems. Since the beginning of the pandemic, B.C. has invested $114.5 million to assist school districts in upgrading ventilation in thousands of classrooms across the province. Additional funding to support further ventilation improvements and upgrades in K-12 public schools will soon be made available.