Coronavirus: Rapid tests key to reopening remaining southern Ontario schools, top doctor says

TORONTO — Ontario’s top doctor says the province is working to implement rapid COVID-19 testing in schools.

Dr. David Williams says the tests will allow for greater surveillance of the virus and will help students return to in-person learning across the province.

Schools in several regions of southern Ontario — including the Greater Toronto Area — have been entirely online since the beginning of January.

Williams has said the province hopes to open them by Feb. 10 but says today that rapid testing may not be available by that date.

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He says he wants the testing to be convenient for parents, unlike the long lineups seen at COVID-19 testing centres last fall.

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Ontario has been reopening its schools at staggered intervals over the past few weeks, starting with northern and rural areas were virus case rates remain low.

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Meanwhile, the province said it will make all international travellers take a COVID-19 test on arrival starting Monday.

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Ontario to start mandatory traveller coronavirus testing at Toronto Pearson airport on Monday

Premier Doug Ford said the province will move forward with the traveller testing despite a similar federal program announced today that’s set to ramp up in the coming weeks.

The testing order will come into effect Monday at Toronto’s Pearson International airport, and will also apply to the province’s land border crossings to the United States.

Ford has repeatedly called on the federal government to bring in mandatory testing for travellers as variant strains of COVID-19 spread around the world.

The province reported 1,837 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday and 58 more deaths related to the virus.

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