The Surrey school district is partnering with Fraser Health and BC Children’s Hospital to provide COVID-19 mouth rinse and gargle sample collection kits for schools.
These take-home kits are meant to “ensure students who become symptomatic while at school have quick access to COVID-19 testing, while preventing COVID-19 transmission in the school environment,” according to a release from Fraser Health.
The initiative starts today, and the kits will be available in all elementary and secondary schools in the Surrey school district. The release add each school has been provided with 12 kits for students who are experiencing symptoms such as fever, chills, cough or worsening of chronic cough, difficulty of breathing, loss of sense of smell or tase, diarrhea or nausea and vomiting.
“Providing schools with collection sample kits that kids can take home can help make testing children for COVID-19 more feasible for families,” says BC Children’s Medical Microbiologist Dr. David Goldfarb. “The Fraser Health Authority is home to 42 per cent of children in the province and children can have diverse needs so being able to collect the sample in a familiar place can greatly reduce stress for them.”
In early April, the Vancouver school district partnered with BC Children’s Hospital for the same take-home kit program.
He said families who already received kits appreciated being handed them as they picked up an unwell child from school.
“Children can have diverse needs and families in the field test said the ability to collect the sample in a familiar place greatly reduced stress,” Goldfarb said.
When a student presents COVID-19 symptoms during the school day, they will be sent home and their family will be offered a take-home kit. However, the Fraser Health release adds the “acceptance of a kit is voluntary and is solely the decision of a child’s parent or guardian.”
“The availability of these test kits is yet another way we are working with our partners in public health to safely keep our schools open,” said Laurie Larsen, Chair of the Surrey Board of Education. “This has been an unprecedented year, and the health and safety of our school communities has always been at the forefront of our work. We thank our staff, students and larger school community for their vigilance and commitment to our health and safety protocols, and for their continued support over this past year.”
The take-home kits include instructions on how to collect the sample at home and are a more comfortable alternative for children than the typical nasal swab. Children should not eat, drink, brush teeth, and chew gum, smoke or vape for one hour prior to testing.
The sample can be dropped off at any LifeLabs location for processing, and results should be available witin 24 to 48 hours.
– With files from Sarah Grochowski