Families of children in pre-primary to Grade 6 in Nova Scotia’s public school system will receive free COVID-19 rapid testing kits in a move to enhance health and safety for unvaccinated children and their families.
Over a thousand volunteers are putting together 80,000 rapid test kits for the pilot program, called Test to Protect Kids. The pilot program will see Nova Scotia provide 320,000 rapid tests to make testing more accessible to families and support early detection of COVID-19.
“We’ve heard from parents that they are concerned about their younger children who are not yet eligible to be vaccinated,” said Becky Druhan, Minister of Education and Early Childhood Development. “These take-home tests are one way to provide families easier access to testing for children with symptoms and an added layer of protection on top of the core public health measures that exist in our schools.”
Within the next few weeks, schools will distribute the nose swab testing kits to families who want them. Each package will contain four take-home rapid COVID-19 tests with a set of instructions on how to complete the test.
Public Health wants families to use the test:
- if it is difficult for a family to get to a COVID-19 testing site and the child has symptoms of COVID-19, or
- if a child only has one mild symptom and does not need a lab-based PCR test, and
- if parents and guardians are comfortable doing a shallow nose swab on their child
“Throughout the pandemic we have seen that schools are not a significant source of the spread of COVID-19 cases,” said Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health. “However, by improving access to testing for children with symptoms, we have a better ability to detect a case early before they have the chance to potentially expose others to the virus in a school setting.”
Schools will provide parents and guardians more information about the pilot program early next week.
- at-home tests can be used on people aged 3 and older with mild COVID-19 symptoms
- rapid COVID-19 tests are less accurate than a PCR test which means if the rapid test is negative, it needs to be repeated in 48 hours. If the rapid test is positive, it must be confirmed with a PCR COVID-19 test, which can be booked at https://covid-self-assessment.novascotia.ca/en or by calling 811
A list of the primary assessment centre locations and hours can be found online at: https://www.nshealth.ca/coronavirustesting
A list of the upcoming rapid pop-up testing locations and hours can be found online at:
A list of schools with exposures is available online: https://backtoschool.ednet.ns.ca/school-exposures