Increased Access to Rapid Antigen Screening for Students

On October 5, the Government of Ontario announced that it is improving access to local targeted COVID-19 rapid antigen screening by making it available for students through participating public health units where risk of transmission is high. 

The program will support access to voluntary, rapid asymptomatic screening for unvaccinated children and students. COVID-19 rapid antigen screening for child care and school age children will proceed as follows:

– Based on the guidance of the Chief Medical Officer of Health, local Medical Officers of Health will continue to monitor local COVID-19 transmission and vaccination rates to identify when to implement rapid antigen screening in parts of their region based on local factors and needs.
– Rapid antigen screening will be used only for unvaccinated asymptomatic students and children who are not high-risk contacts. Symptomatic or high-risk contacts should continue to access lab-based PCR testing available at assessment centres and other collection centres.
– Where the local public health unit has identified schools or child care centres that would benefit from this screening, rapid antigen screening tests will be made available. Parents will be able to choose if their unvaccinated asymptomatic children will participate in this screening offered by their schools or licensed child care settings.
– Unvaccinated children participating in the program will be able to conduct the rapid antigen screening at home with instructions.
– Children who receive a positive result will be required to seek a confirmatory lab-based PCR test at a local assessment centre or specimen collection centre and isolate until the result of that lab-based PCR test is known. Children who receive a negative result on a rapid antigen screening test will be able to continue in-person learning. More detailed information including duration and frequency will follow.

Read more about this announcement here.
Proof of Vaccination Requirement in Long-Term Care Facilities

On October 1, the province announced that effective November 15, vaccinations will be mandatory for all in-home staff, support workers, students, and volunteers, unless a staff member has a valid medical exemption. The province will also expand inspections of homes and redirect provincial resources to enhance and audit existing testing in homes.

– Staff, support workers, students, and volunteers will have until November 15, 2021 to show proof that they have received all required doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, or to show proof of a valid medical exemption.
– Staff who do not have all required doses or a valid medical exemption by the deadline will not be able to enter a long-term care home to work.
– Newly hired staff will be required to be fully vaccinated before they begin working in a home unless they have a valid medical exemption.
– Homes will begin randomly testing fully vaccinated individuals, including staff, caregivers and visitors, to help detect possible breakthrough cases of COVID-19 as early as possible.

Read the complete announcement here.
Proof of Vaccination Requirement in Indoor Sporting Facilities 

On September 29, Northern Ontario’s seven Medical Officers of Health announced that effective October 14, operators of facilities in Northern Ontario where indoor sports are played or practiced will ensure additional groups provide proof of vaccination against COVID-19. 

Instructions to facility operators have been issued under the Reopening Ontario Act requiring anyone aged 12 and older coaching, officiating, or volunteering at indoor organized sports to provide proof of vaccination unless a medical exemption applies.

Read the letter of instruction here. Read more about this announcement here.