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Ontario School Reopening Won't Require COVID-19 Tests Even If Students Have Symptoms

Ontario schools have set their guidelines for reopening. Under these rules, students won't need to get mandatory COVID-19 tests even if they have exhibited symptoms. The reopening plan only mentions screenings, but no requirement to show a negative test result before entering. 

The provincial guide states that "every day school boards must report suspected and confirmed cases within the school community to the ministry."

Recommended testing will be encouraged, but students will never need a negative test result to enter the premises, according to the plan.

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The move is being upheld by public health experts, who have reasoned that mandatory testing for school children is unnecessary at this point. 

"If we were to do [testing] at the level of all students, it would simply not be possible," U of T professor and executive director of Ontario's COVID-19 science advisory team Dr. Peter Juni told CBC.

"We need to find a way that doesn't overburden the children, the school and the public health system. This needs a lot of creativity, and I don't think we have all the answers yet."

Currently, the provincial government has set out guidelines on how to manage COVID-19 cases should students become exposed

Contact tracing and screening will be some of the main methods to curb the spread. 

An outbreak will be declared if there are two or more students or staff within a school that have lab results that came back COVID-19 positive.

Ford has said he would close the schools down "in the blink of an eye" should this occur.

However, tests for those with symptoms will be recommended, not required. 

Protection strategies, for the time being, will include self-screening at home as well as symptom screening when students arrive in class. 

Anyone who exhibits symptoms while they are at school will be immediately separated from others before they are sent home.

Students who come in contact with COVID-19 will also be asked to self-isolate for 14 days. 

Contact tracing such as daily attendance and transportation records of those that became ill will also be sent to public health. 

The page also points out that in-person attendance is optional, and that students can opt for remote learning instead. 

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