Hamilton

Hamilton schools eligible for asymptomatic testing when in-person class restarts

Hamilton schools will be eligible for asymptomatic testing on Jan. 25 when students are set to return to in-person classes according to Ontario's Education Minister Stephen Lecce.

Dawn Danko, the chair of Hamilton's public school board, previously said she supports asymptomatic testing

Hamilton schools will be eligible for asymptomatic testing when in-person classes resume on Jan. 25. (Bobby Hristova/CBC)

Hamilton schools will be eligible for asymptomatic testing on Jan. 25 when students are set to return to in-person classes according to Ontario's Education Minister Stephen Lecce.

"For the day schools reopen ... all schools and all public health units will be eligible, will have the capacity and the testing kits required," he said during a media briefing on Friday morning.

The province was previously doing asymptomatic testing for students, faculty and staff at select schools in Toronto, Peel and York regions, and in Ottawa.

It revealed an outbreak involving more than 20 cases was discovered at Thorncliffe Park Public School in Toronto, the first school where the program was deployed.

Dawn Danko, the chair of Hamilton's public school board, previously said she supports asymptomatic testing.

"Given the nature of COVID where some cases are absolutely asymptomatic or have very minimal symptoms, and they often see this in younger people, asymptomatic testing is the only way we can really appreciate what the state of affairs are in Hamilton, in the community and in our schools," she said before the winter break.

"Other trustees and chair from other board have said, 'Don't forget the remote communities, don't forget the rural communities, don't forget the northern communities' because again, right now we know symptomatic cases that get tested, or someone is exposed and they get tested, then we find positive cases. But we also know there are positive cases that we don't, we can't detect, without doing asymptomatic testing."

Lecce added there will be $380 million dollars for Ontario schools focused on improving HVAC and air ventilation improvements, more personal protective equipment, and more staff, particularly custodial workers. There will also be $10 million in support of student mental health, including funding for Kids Help Phone.

Danko said in an interview on Thursday afternoon the extra money will help reduce the spread of COVID-19 in schools.

"I heard a commitment to doing more, but we have two weeks to do it, so that has to happen quickly," she said.

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