Take-home COVID-19 Tests

Limestone Learning Foundation

Recent significant changes to COVID-19 testing and case and contact management for schools has resulted in changes to current take-home testing kits for students and staff. The Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Health and Ontario Health continues to provide school boards in Ontario with take-home COVID-19 tests to provide students and staff with accessible testing options, however there are some changes outlined below. 

Image of components of Rapid Antigen Test kitsRapid Antigen Test: As announced on January 12, 2022, the Ministry of Education, in partnership with Ministry of Health and Ministry of Government and Consumer Services, is providing publicly funded schools and licensed child-care programs with rapid antigen test kits for symptomatic students, children and staff. Students and staff will receive a package of two rapid antigen tests proactively, for at-home use if they develop symptoms.  

Image of PCR Self-Collection Test kitPCR Self-Collection Test: Effective January 2022, PCR self-collection kits are no longer to be used on asymptomatic high-risk contacts/exposed cohorts of a confirmed case of COVID-19, and should only be provided to symptomatic students and education staff experiencing symptoms most commonly associated with COVID-19 while at school.

Instructions on how to use each test will be provided to students (families) upon distribution. Each kit will include a letter to families and each kit contains specific instructions from the manufacturer. If families have any questions about either testing process, they may contact Telehealth Ontario at 1-866-797-0000.

Rapid Antigen Test Letter to Families

As announced on January 12, 2022, the Ministry of Education, in partnership with Ministry of Health and Ministry of Government and Consumer Services, is providing publicly funded schools and licensed child-care programs with Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) kits for use by symptomatic students and staff at-home use if they develop symptoms. Use of these tests is voluntary.

Although the first shipment of rapid antigen tests is prioritized for child care, in-person elementary students and in-person school staff, additional tests will be distributed to secondary students as available. Please note, kits are only available to students and staff who are attending school or working in person.

While providing students with rapid tests is an important tool to manage the spread of COVID-19, Public Health authorities are clear that vaccination remains the most effective protection against the virus and its variants. Ensuring that students are vaccinated will provide them with a strong level of protection and help to keep schools open and as safe as possible.

It also is important that everyone continue with key public health strategies that have been effective in keeping this pandemic under control, including staying home when sick, washing your hands frequently and wearing a face covering as required.

Instructions for using the Rapid Antigen Test kit:

Rapid Antigen Tests should be used on individuals who have one of the most common symptoms of COVID-19:

  • Fever and/or chills; OR
  •  Cough; OR
  •  Shortness of breath; OR
  • Decrease or loss of taste or smell; OR

Two or more of:

  • Runny nose/nasal congestion
  • Headache
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Sore throat
  • Muscle aches/joint pain
  1. Rapid Antigen Tests must be completed at home
  2. Follow all written instructions provided in the rapid test kit. Instructions are also available online.

What to do after your test:

  • You will know the outcome of the test within 15 minutes.
  • If the first RAT test is positive there is no need to use the second test. A positive RAT is highly indicative that the individual has COVID-19. A positive RAT does NOT need to be confirmed with a PCR test. Positive RAT tests do NOT need to be reported to the public health unit, school or child care. A student that receives a positive result on a rapid test should remain at home and following the Return to School or Child Care Protocols as outlined by KFL&A Public Health.
  • If the first RAT test is negative complete the second test separated by 24-48 hours. If test results are negative, your student may attend school as usual. Even if your student tests negative, they should continue to adhere to all relevant Public Health directions.

If you have any questions about the testing process, please contact Telehealth Ontario at 1-866-797-0000.

Please continue to follow all Public Health directives.

Rapid Antigen Test Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Rapid Antigen Testing program?

As announced on January 12, 2022, the Ministry of Education, in partnership with Ministry of Health and Ministry of Government and Consumer Services, is providing publicly funded schools and licensed child-care programs with rapid antigen test kits for symptomatic students, children and staff. Students and staff will receive a package of two rapid antigen tests proactively, for at-home use if they develop symptoms. 

Who is eligible to receive the rapid test kits?

Rapid tests are for staff and students who are working/attending school in person.

Do students have to use the rapid test kits?

No. Use of rapid tests is voluntary.

What is included in the take-home test kits?

Each rapid test kit contains:

  • individually packed test devices
  • extraction buffer vials with nozzle
  • individually packed swabs
  • Hard copy instructions on how to complete the test, also available online.

What do you do after the test?

  • You will know the outcome of the test within 15 minutes.
  • If the first RAT test is positive there is no need to use the second test. A positive RAT is highly indicative that the individual has COVID-19. A positive RAT does NOT need to be confirmed with a PCR test. Positive RAT tests do NOT need to be reported to the public health unit, school or child care. A student that receives a positive result on a rapid test should remain at home and following the Return to School or Child Care Protocols as outlined by KFL&A Public Health.
  • If the first RAT test is negative complete the second test separated by 24-48 hours. If test results are negative, your student may attend school as usual. Even if your student tests negative, they should continue to adhere to all relevant Public Health directions.

Where can families get assistance?

If families have any questions about the rapid testing process, they may contact Telehealth Ontario at 1-866-797-0000.

 

PCR Self-Collection Test Kit Letter to Families

The PCR self-collection testing option provided by Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Health and Ontario Health in schools will continue with a targeted focus on students and staff who develop symptoms commonly associated with COVID-19 while at school.

Effective January 2022, PCR self-collection kits are no longer to be used on asymptomatic high-risk contacts/exposed cohorts of a confirmed case of COVID-19 and should only be provided to symptomatic students and education staff experiencing symptoms most commonly associated with COVID-19 while at school.

Usage of the PCR self-collection test kit is voluntary. As this is an interim testing option – in preparation for broader access to Rapid Antigen Tests – additional PCR self-collection kits will not be distributed once the board’s supply is used.

Families must deliver completed PCR test kits to a designated testing location. Available locations are posted online by visiting the Ontario government website and entering your postal code using the filter option on the left side of the screen. Filter for locations that “accepts school PCR self-collection kits). If drop-off location is a pharmacy, families should contact the pharmacy to ensure they can drop off tests within the appropriate time frame to have them included in that day’s delivery to labs. If not, tests may be spoiled.

If you choose to participate, please read the important information that follows and within the testing kit package before completing the test.

Instructions for using the PCR Self-Collection Test kit:

  1. Use the PCR self-collection test kit on the morning before you drop it off at a participating testing location. A collected specimen has a 24-hour shelf life, and it is very important that the specimen is collected the same morning that it is dropped off.
  2. Follow all written instructions provided in the PCR self-collection test kit.
  3. Watch a short video on how to complete your test collection: How to Collect Your Own COVID-19 Oral and Nasal Sample.
  4. Complete all the required information on the test requisition and the specimen tube.
    1. Ensure the specimen tube lid is closed tightly.
    2. Label the specimen tube with the date of collection, your full name and either your Health Card Number (required for accessing results online) or date of birth.
    3. Complete all required fields of the COVID-19 test requisition form including your family physician information.
  5. Drop the test kit at one the designated testing locations in our area.

Accessing your results:

If you provided your Health Card Number and all required patient information on the test requisition form, your test results will be available online.

Results are usually available within two days of your specimen being dropped off. Result return times may vary based on volumes. If your results are not available online via the COVID-19 Test Results Viewer, do NOT contact the Public Health Ontario laboratory directly. Please contact the location where you dropped your test off.

If you have any questions about the testing process, please contact Telehealth Ontario at 1-866-797-0000. If you continue to experience issues, please book a testing appointment with a local assessment centre.

Please continue to follow all Public Health directives.

PCR Self-Collection Testing Kit Frequently Asked Questions

What is the PCR Self-Collection Testing program?

As announced on December 30, 2021, the PCR self-collection testing option in schools will continue with a targeted focus on students and staff who develop symptoms commonly associated with COVID-19 while at school. The board has a limited number of PCR tests remaining.

Who is eligible for take-home PCR self-collection tests?

Effective January 2022, PCR self-collection kits are no longer to be used on asymptomatic high-risk contacts/exposed cohorts of a confirmed case of COVID-19, and should only be provided to symptomatic students and education staff experiencing symptoms most commonly associated with COVID-19 while at school.

Do students and staff have to use the take-home test kits?

No. Usage of the PCR self-collection test kit is voluntary. As this is an interim testing option – in preparation for broader access to rapid antigen tests – additional PCR self-collection kits will not be distributed.

Where can completed tests be dropped off?

Families must deliver completed PCR test kits to a designated testing location. Available locations are posted online by visiting the Government of Ontario website, and entering your postal code using the filter option on the left side of the screen. Filter for locations that “accepts school PCR self-collection kits). If drop-off location is a pharmacy, families should contact the pharmacy to ensure they can drop off tests within the appropriate time frame to have them included in that day’s delivery to labs. If not, tests may be spoiled.

What is included in the PCR kit?

  • 1 specimen tube with a label attached
  • 1 flock swab
  • 1 requisition form
  • Hard copy instructions on how to complete the test; how to fill out the requisition form

Where/when can PCR tests be completed?

Testing should be carefully planned to allow the test to be returned to the testing location on the same day. Tests may remain at room temperature. If drop-off location is a pharmacy, families should contact the pharmacy to ensure they can drop off tests within the appropriate time frame to have them included in that day’s delivery to labs. If not, tests may be spoiled.

How can individuals access their test results?

If you provided your Health Card Number and all required patient information on the test requisition form, test results will be available online. Results are usually available within two days of your specimen being dropped off. Result return times may vary based on volumes. If your results are not available online via the COVID-19 Test Results Viewer, do NOT contact the Public Health Ontario laboratory directly. Please contact the location where you dropped your test off. If you test positive for COVID-19, you will get a call from Public Health with further instructions.

Using the PCR self-collection test kit:

  1. Use the PCR self-collection test on the morning before you drop it off at a participating testing location. A collected specimen has a 24-hour shelf life, and it is very important that the specimen is collected the same morning that it is dropped-off.
  2. Follow all written instructions provided in the PCR self-collection test kit.
  3. Consider watching a short video on how to complete your test collection: How to Collect Your Own COVID-19 Oral and Nasal Sample
  4. Complete all the required information on the test requisition and the specimen tube.
    1. Ensure the specimen tube lid is closed tightly.
    2. Label the specimen tube with the date of collection, your full name and either your Health Card Number (required for accessing results online) or date of birth.
    3. Complete all required fields of the COVID-19 test requisition form including your family physician information.
  5. Drop the test kit at one the designated testing locations in our area.

Where can families get assistance?

If families have any questions about the PCR testing process, they may contact Telehealth Ontario at 1-866-797-0000.

 

The Limestone District School Board is situated on traditional territories of the Anishinaabe & Haudenosaunee.