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Ontario school board staff add bagging COVID-19 rapid test kits to their to-do lists ahead of Monday

Rapid test kits for Ontario students must be individually packaged by staff at local school boards, adding potentially hundreds of hours to get the job done as in-person learning begins Monday.

London, Ont., school board said it wouldn't have the test kits ready for when classes begin

COVID-19 rapid antigen test kits to be distributed to Ontario students are packaged into bags by staff at the Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board. (Rita Russo)

Rapid test kits for Ontario students must be individually packaged by staff at local school boards, adding potentially hundreds of hours to get the job done.

Ontario said Wednesday that students will get two rapid antigen tests to take home when they return to in-class learning Monday.

But some school boards said distribution would not be possible the first day back. The kits are arriving in large boxes, according to the province, and must be individually packaged. 

The Thames Valley District School Board in London, Ont. said it received its shipment of 145,800 rapid tests Friday afternoon, and estimates packaging them into baggies with specially printed labels could take up 1,000 hours.

Hundreds of hours to package tests

The school board said the bags to put the kits in likely wouldn't arrive until Monday, with assembly not starting until Tuesday.

"We will be recruiting internally for staff who can assist. Work is currently being undertaken from now until the bags arrive Monday, to prepare for the assembly of the individual kits," a spokesperson said.

"They are in boxes of 20 that we have to take apart and create kits of two. We expect this will take in excess of 1,000 hours."

The province confirmed rapid tests are arriving in large packages and each school board is responsible for assembling the kits. It said in a statement that detailed instruction has been sent. 

Other school boards in Ontario have already been able to start the packaging process. 

Peter Sovran, director of education for the Upper Grand District School Board, said this week that the tests arrived in packages of 25 kits, 25 tests per package.

The English-language board serves students at 76 schools in Guelph, Wellington and Dufferin counties.

"We have a number of staff beginning the process of taking apart those 25 per package and reassembling them into single units so that we can get them out to schools, and we will have them in schools for Monday," Sovran old CBC K-W.

"It will require staff to work likely throughout today [Thursday], throughout tomorrow [Friday] and the weekend in order to get these into the hands of schools for distribution as of Monday."

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