The Chair of the Grande Prairie and District Catholic Schools Board says the rapid testing program set to take place in local schools is a great first step in the battle against COVID-19 but believes the province can do more to protect educators.
Both Grande Prairie & District Catholic Schools, the Grande Prairie Public School Division, and Conseil scolaire du Nord-Ouest’s École Nouvelle Frontière will be part of the province’s in-school rapid COVID-19 screening test program announced over the weekend. The provincial government says 440,000 rapid test kits will be handed out to schools across Alberta, with the potential to test upwards of 220,000 students and staff.
Ouellette says it’s exciting to have voluntary rapid testing going on in local schools, and believes the biggest benefit of the rapid testing units will be for those having to isolate as potential close contacts.
“The cases just keep climbing, and we need to keep the children in the schools, this is one of the ways we can do it, we need to get it under control,” he says.
“It’s really going to help the students that are in close contact, the ones who get out for seven or ten days because they are a potential close contact.”
Ouellette, however, says he remains disappointed in what he believes is a lack of progress when it comes to getting teachers vaccinated as soon as possible. He adds he feels for the teachers and isn’t sure why the government hasn’t pulled out all the stops to make it happen.
“I’m still dismayed that we aren’t getting our teachers vaccinated, they are the front line, they are with all those children,” he says.
“I don’t think anyone in the public would think that it’s jumping the queue, we need them vaccinated, it’s very important.”
The rapid test program will also be rolled out in cities across Alberta, including Edmonton, Calgary, and Lethbridge.