The provincial government is making more antigen testing for children available to families in the public school system. 

A plan to keep schools safe an open was released on Thursday, November 18, 2021, by the Ontario government.  

It was announced that the province will provide take-home PCR self-collection test kits to all publicly funded schools for students and staff who are eligible for testing as per the provincial testing guidance. You can read the full provincial testing guidelines HERE.  

Private and First Nation schools have also been offered the opportunity. 

Once a specimen is collected, students will be able to drop off their tests at participating testing locations and pharmacies.  

It was also announced that schools will begin to distribute 11 million rapid antigen screening tests to all public schools ahead of the December break to add an additional layer of protection over the holiday period and as students return to school in January.  

Each student will take home a pack of five rapid antigen tests to be taken every Monday and Thursday (starting on Dec. 2) over the holidays and throughout the return to in-person learning. Students who test positive will be required to isolate and take a lab-based PCR test as soon as possible 

Testing will be optional and is not required for students to return to classes come January, although, testing is highly recommended. Again, this opportunity was offered to 100+ First Nation schools and they will have the choice to opt into the program.  

“Ontario’s plan for safer schools has delivered improved ventilation, supported high vaccination rates for youth, and restored extra-curricular activities and sports – all critical to student mental and physical health,” said Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education. 

“By expanding testing options over the winter holiday, putting in place additional safety measures, and returning to normal timetabling, we are taking action to ensure schools reopen safely while supporting a more positive learning environment for students.” 

Beside the increased options for COVID-19 testing, Ontario schools will only have Virtual-only school-wide assemblies for elementary schools starting in January 2022 as well as Restricting lunches/breaks to classroom cohort when indoors where distancing between cohorts cannot be maintained in elementary schools. 

“As we prepare to head inside over the winter months, and while we have paused the next step of our reopening plan out of an abundance of caution, enhancing our testing strategy is critical to protect our hospital capacity, health care resources, and the progress we have made together so far in learning to live with and manage COVID-19 in the long term,” said Dr. Kieran Moore, Chief Medical Officer of Health.