Both North Vancouver and West Vancouver families now have access to easy-to-use gargle test kits for kids who develop COVID symptoms while at school.
The two local school districts have now both signed on to a project with B.C. Children’s Hospital that is providing a number of at-home COVID test kits to local schools that can be given to families of kids who develop symptoms of illness during the school day.
The project was first piloted in several schools in the Vancouver School District, where kits have also recently been made available.
The test is the same one that has been offered to kids at government testing centres in B.C. since September.
After parents supervise the child to get a mouth rinse and spit sample at home, they can drop off the test kit at any LifeLabs location.
Test results dropped off at LifeLabs locations are generally turned around within a day, and families are informed of results in the same way they would be if the test were done through a COVID testing centre.
Dr. David Goldfarb, leader of the project at B.C. Children’s Hospital, said the at-home test has proved reliable, and is easy for most school-aged children to complete. At-home testing is more convenient for some families and less intimidating for some children than visiting a COVID-19 testing centre, he said.
West Vancouver signed up for the project last month but only just received the kits, so none have been used yet, said district spokesperson Tricia Buckley.
The number of COVID cases has spiked on the North Shore from mid-March to mid-April but has recently fallen, along with the number of exposures being reported in local schools. Between 40 and 60 per cent of adults on the North Shore have now also received a first dose of vaccine.
B.C. is expected to provide more details on plans to vaccinate teens this week.
Children should not eat, drink (even water), chew gum, brush their teeth, smoke or vape for at least one hour before the mouth rinse and gargle test. According to the BC Centre for Disease Control, they should also avoid practising the swish, gargle and spit method two hours or sooner before the test.