< Back to Blog

New pilot program for rapid testing in schools

Posted on

Starting in mid-March, rapid COVID-19 tests will be offered at two Calgary schools to help assess rapid on-site testing in schools.

More than 100,000 kits will be made available for this pilot program. Rapid tests will be offered every week for up to three weeks to screen students with no symptoms.

One school from both the Calgary Board of Education and the Calgary Catholic School District will participate. The specific locations have not yet been selected.

Results from the first three weeks of the pilot will inform how the pilot program can be successfully expanded to include more schools and regions in the weeks ahead.

“We are piloting rapid testing in schools with outbreaks as part of our commitment to safely continue in-person learning. Rapid testing can possibly offer a close to real-time check on the situation in an entire school experiencing an outbreak. Every day a student is able to attend school in-person is a win during the pandemic.”

Adriana LaGrange, Minister of Education

“This new pilot program is a significant expansion in rapid testing, and we are not stopping. These tests are a vital tool in preventing the spread of COVID-19 and breaking the chains of transmission. We will continue expanding the rollout and hope to offer many more tests to other businesses and sectors in the coming days.”

Tyler Shandro, Minister of Health

“The use of rapid tests is expected to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission in schools. This is an important and proactive step that should further help to support the health of our students, staff, and school communities.”

Marilyn Dennis, chair, Calgary Board of Education

“Calgary Catholic is pleased to work with the Government of Alberta on the pilot program to offer in-school rapid tests to students and staff members. We believe that this pilot will provide additional screening on site that will support the fight against COVID-19 spread in our school communities. At Calgary Catholic, we remain committed to making our schools as safe and healthy as possible for all of our students and staff.”

Mary Martin, chair, Calgary Catholic School District

“We are pleased that government has heard the consistent call from teachers and is now taking action to introduce rapid COVID testing in Alberta’s schools. Schools are the backbone of our communities, and providing testing in schools is essential to keep all Albertans safe and to help public health authorities and schools respond to future outbreaks involving students, staff and their families.”

Jason Schilling, president, Alberta Teachers’ Association

A testing team will set up at each participating school. Staff must sign a consent form and students must have a consent form signed by their parents or guardians to get tested.

This pilot program will help to determine the effectiveness of using rapid screening tests to manage outbreaks in schools. It will also evaluate the benefits of using rapid tests to reduce the risk of transmission in schools experiencing outbreaks by quickly identifying individuals who may have COVID-19 but do not have symptoms.

Alberta’s government is responding to the COVID-19 pandemic by protecting lives and livelihoods with precise measures to bend the curve, sustain small businesses and protect Alberta’s health-care system.

Quick facts

  • Alberta Health, Alberta Education and participating school boards will work together to determine which schools experiencing outbreaks will participate in the pilot program.
  • Students and staff who do not have symptoms, and have not been identified as close contacts, can get tested while attending school.
  • Rapid tests results may be available at the school within an hour.
  • Students and staff who get a positive result after a rapid test will not be able to return to class and will isolate.
  • Positive results from rapid tests are considered preliminary and must be confirmed with an additional PCR test at an Alberta Health Services assessment centre.

Related information