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COVID-19 test clinics for Hamilton schools set for next week amid 3 outbreaks and rising cases

Public health officials in Hamilton are supportive of the provincial government's decision to move schools entirely online after the spring break. Global News

Hamilton’s public school boards say they expect to roll out provincially ordered asymptomatic COVID-19 testing in elementary and secondary schools next week.

While the Hamilton Wentworth District School Board (HWDSB) and Hamilton Wentworth Catholic District School Board (HWCDSB) have no firm dates for upcoming clinics or what schools will be involved, both expect the clinics to take place at end of next week.

“It might be nice to suggest we would be consistent with a day for testing, we may not be able to guarantee that every week,” HWDSB spokesperson Shawn McKillop told Global News.

“Hopefully we’ll get into a routine with this as we are doing it weekly.”

Read more: No COVID-19 cases from weekend school clinics in Hamilton as province orders weekly testing

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On Tuesday, the province advised larger boards that at least five per cent of their elementary and secondary schools will need to be tested reaching two per cent of their populations using either a rapid antigen or polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test.

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Both of the city’s boards began “targeted” rapid COVID-19 tests with 21 staff and 65 students from four city schools on the weekend with no positive cases using rapid tests.

This week each of Hamilton’s public school boards reported their first COVID-19 outbreaks amid the February return to in-person classes.

The latest is at St. Ann Catholic Elementary School near Barton Street and Sherman Avenue in central Hamilton where two staff members tested positive. Both employees were at the school on Feb 12.

The HWCDSB has also closed St. Teresa of Avila Elementary in the city’s west end after its outbreak grew to a total of eight cases involving four students and four staff.

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Five other schools also reported new cases on Thursday, including St. Mark and Regina Mundi on the Mountain and St. Ann in Central Hamilton as well as Bishop Tonnos and St. Joachim in Ancaster.

The board now has 18 active cases from 11 different schools in the first few weeks of February involving eight staff, nine students and one third party.

Read more: Coronavirus: Hamilton sees 46 new COVID-19 cases, set to open new vaccination clinic at St. Joe’s

Meanwhile, the HWDSB is also managing an outbreak at A.M. Cunningham Elementary School in the city’s east end. Two students are involved and are now self-isolating.

The board also revealed new cases at Dundas Valley Secondary and Greensville Elementary, each reporting a single student case.

The HWDSB has recorded 23 total COVID-19 cases since early February among 17 students, three staff, two remote learners and an e-learner.

In line with the province’s outbreak management protocol, the outbreaks are expected to be declared over in the first 14 days with no evidence of ongoing transmission.

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