TORONTO, February 1, 2022 – As leaders in children’s health, we are pleased with the announcement that additional Rapid Access Tests (RATs) will be made available to schools and childcare settings. We urge the government to ensure that every school and childcare centre has adequate supply for its staff and children and that families be able to access supply easily before any other distribution of RATs takes place.
There needs to be a continued focus on reducing risk in these settings to ensure they remain open. While PCR tests are more sensitive, if unavailable, then we support the widespread distribution of RATs. Children continue to be the least vaccinated cohort in the population and tests are an important measure to enable in-person learning. Without the assurance and knowledge testing provides, kids will remain absent from school increasing the likelihood classes get closed.
Even with widespread access to testing, it is imperative we do all we can to protect kids. While few children are hospitalized and for most children COVID is a mild disease, those under five are still ineligible for vaccination, and any child hospitalized with serious illness is one too many. Complex, medically fragile kids continue to be at greater risk of the effects of COVID. We must continue to focus on the public health measures that work, including vaccination, masking and reducing contacts so that we can improve kids’ wellbeing and keep them in school.
As always, thank you to teachers, ECEs and other education and childcare workers for their continued commitment to kids.
About the Children’s Health Coalition: The Children’s Health Coalition is a collective of children’s health organizations made up of CHEO, Children’s Hospital – London Health Sciences Centre, Children’s Mental Health Ontario, Empowered Kids Ontario, Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital, Kids Health Alliance, McMaster Children’s Hospital, and SickKids.