Some Grande Prairie area schools will be offered rapid COVID-19 testing in the coming weeks. The Alberta government announced Saturday that Grande Prairie & District Catholic Schools and the Grande Prairie Public School Division will be part of an in-school rapid screening test program, along with school divisions in Calgary, Edmonton, and Lethbridge.
The province says 440,000 rapid test kits will be distributed to schools and testing will be offered to up to 220,000 students and staff. It’s reported the tests could potentially detect the virus quickly in people who don’t have symptoms so they can isolate.
The priority will go to junior and senior high schools based on a variety of factors like the prevalence of COVID-19 in the school, as determined by the school boards and provincial officials. Testing is optional for students and staff who do not have COVID-19 symptoms and who have signed consent forms.
Board chair of the Grande Prairie Public School Division John Lehners says the news is welcomed locally.
“Grande Prairie Public School Division is very appreciative of the efforts of the ministry to be proactive in their approach to the COVID-19 pandemic and is fully supportive of the expansion of the rapid testing initiative into our schools.”
It’s said testing will start as soon as possible, as rapid testing teams are set up. The government also notes that teams may also be sent to schools outside of the city if there is a need.
The province claims results should usually be available within an hour and anyone who gets a positive result will not be able to return to class.
As of April 9, 2021, there are 10 Grande Prairie area schools with COVID-19 outbreaks of 10 or more cases, five with outbreaks of between five and nine cases, and six with alerts for between two and four cases.