The province’s largest school divisions said in many cases there’s more demand for rapid tests than kits to go home with students to test for COVID-19.
Rapid testing kits were distributed to Saskatchewan schools this week, and across the board, the school divisions said the same thing: many schools are running low, or have families on waitlists.
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“Our supply is either already gone, already spoken for, one school waiting for tests to arrive had over 100 families on a wait list as of (Wednesday) … or nearly gone already,” wrote a spokesperson for Regina Catholic School Division in an email.
Saskatoon Public Schools said several principals told them “the kits went very fast, with many schools reporting they have more families waiting to get a kit than actually received one
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The tests go to households with young kids up to 11 years of age. At a press conference Thursday, Premier Scott Moe said demand has been high.
“We have a standing request with the federal government for a million a month of the rapid tests to be made available, as well as some of the newer types of rapid tests that are being approved by Health Canada,” he said.
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He said tests in the future could go to schools, some businesses and become available to the public.
“What I had urged the prime minister on our call to do is to look into approving any and all rapid test sources that we have, so the more the merrier if you will,” he said, adding he also wants more rapid tests for the province.
“The more that we have available, the sooner we have them available to Saskatchewan people,” Moe said.
“They are our first line of defence and offence really in our battle in this forth wave of COVID-19.”
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However, the Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation said it worries whether testing for school settings is best left in the hands of parents.
“We have no control over the results of the tests,” said president Patrick Maze. “There’s nothing that compels a parent to report back to the school that their child was positive or negative.”
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Maze said the tests should be administered by someone other than families at home.
“Government had indicated that a third-party provider would administer the tests and unfortunately that never seems to have happened,” he said.
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School divisions in Saskatoon and Regina said overall rapid testing kits at home have been a success.
“We see that as a positive sign that families are looking for various ways to help keep students and staff safe in schools,” wrote the Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools in an email.
“(This) response from parents on requesting these rapid tests … demonstrates that they are just as focused on student safety as our school staffs are. We are grateful for that,” wrote Regina Public Schools.
Moe said the province could go outside the federal government to find additional tests themselves to meet the growing demand.
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