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Nelson families first to be given rapid antigen tests for home use for school-aged children

Timothy Schafer Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
By Timothy Schafer Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
February 3rd, 2022

Nelson families with school-age children will be amongst the first scholastic families in the province to receive rapid antigen tests.

The B.C. Ministry of Education announced Feb. 1 it will be sending out 300,000 tests to school-aged children — kindergarten to Grade 12 — including one box of five tests to each family with a child attending school in School District No. 8 (Kootenay Lake).

Because SD8 is designated rural and remote by the province, it is one of seventeen rural and remote school districts in B.C. to receive rapid tests for K-12 students in phase one.

“This will ensure that communities that are further away from regional testing facilities have access to tests,” said Jennifer Whiteside, B.C. Minister of Education.

The Interior Health advised that the tests are intended to be administered at home by families and should only be used for students who are symptomatic.

Other neighbouring rural Kootenay/Boundary school districts — Arrow Lakes (SD10), Boundary (SD51) — are also targeted in phase one.


Rapid Antigen at-home test instructions for K-12 students are available here.

The rapid antigen tests can be used at home to find out if someone has COVID-19, said the B.C. Centre for Disease Control, with the results available in less than 20 minutes.

“Rapid antigen tests are available at some testing locations,” the BCCDC noted. “They are available to people with symptoms if testing is recommended.”

The rapid test device provides “direct and qualitative detection of the SARS-COV-2 viral nucleoprotein antigens from nasal and nasopharyngeal secretions,” within six days of onset COVID-19 symptoms.

The test is authorized in Canada for use and doesn’t require laboratory equipment.


Despite the home tests all other previously introduced COVID-19 safety protocols at the district schools will remain in effect.

Existing testing programs in place through Interior Health.

All family members should be screened for COVID-19 twice per week to help identify and isolate those who have COVID-19, including those who don’t have any symptoms.

Early identification helps to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the BCCDC noted.


Mental health equation

The mental health aspect of the pandemic for students is being addressed through erase, a school-specific mental health resources for students.

• Information for individuals who are struggling with their mental health is also available from the BCCDC.


Accuracy questioned

Despite rapid tests providing quick results, they aren’t as accurate as PCR tests analyzed in a lab, pointed out.

“Although these tests provide quick results, they aren’t as accurate as laboratory tests because they require more of the virus in your sample to report a positive result,” the website read. “Rapid tests come with a high risk of giving a false negative result.”

A false negative means the test shows you don’t have COVID-19 when you do actually have it.

On the other side of that equation, rapid tests rarely give a false positive result, meaning a positive test for COVID-19 when it is not present.

A March 2021 review of studies on rapid tests found that a positive COVID-19 result was given in 99.6 percent of people.

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