Millions of rapid tests will be delivered to Quebec pharmacies and schools this week.
At schools, tests will be put in the backpacks of every elementary and preschool child again.
The English Montreal and Lester B. Pearson School Boards each confirmed to Global News they received a shipment of tests from the government on Friday. Distribution will begin as early as Tuesday.
“Parents are super happy about it,” said Katherine Korakakis, president of Quebec’s English Parents Committee Association and a mother of two school aged kids.
Her 11-year-old daughter was sent home with 5 tests in her backpack in mid-December, and she has not been able to get a rapid test since then.
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“I have not been able to get my hands on rapid tests, and I have been on the waiting list at two pharmacies since it was announced in December,” she said.
Parents of high schoolers do not have as much to celebrate. They will not be getting tests. If a student develops symptoms during the school day, they will get rapidly tested in school by a staff member.
“They can access rapid tests during the day at schools, as well as teachers and other members of school staff,” Quebec Education Minister Jean Francois Roberge said on Monday.
English Montreal School Board spokesperson Mike Cohen said school support staff are ready to take on the burden of testing students.
“It could be done by a principal, by a secretary. Sometimes you have nurses from the local CIUSSS who are assigned to a school, ”Cohen explained.
Korakakis would rather the tests just be sent home, but high schoolers have greater vaccine coverage and supply is limited.
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“You’re taking a staff member who has to be in complete PPE in order to do that, right? It could take about an hour to do the whole thing, ”said Korakakis, worrying school staff will be forced to ignore other tasks.
Other than that, high schoolers and everyone else will need to rely on pharmacies, where supply from the federal government is still not meeting demand.
“There are not as many tests as we would like,” said Hugues Mousseau of the Quebec Association of Pharmacy Distributors.
Waiting lists are getting shorter, however, and three million additional free tests will be available in stores this week.
“Things are getting better and hopefully this week or next week, we’ll be able to meet the demand,” said Benoit Morin of the Association québécoise des pharmaciens propriétaires.
Pharmacists have no specifics on how many rapid tests they’ll receive in February, but Morin is optimistic.
“There is no confirmation, but there is some indication that we will receive some more in February,” Morin said.
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