N.S. pilots take home COVID-19 tests for students, but some parents want more preventative measures

(AP Photo/Marta Lavandier)

The students at Burton Ettinger Elementary school in Halifax are getting a different kind of take-home test.

Nova Scotia recently began a pilot project to provide take-home COVID-19 testing kits to students under the age of 12.

The health department says it will provide an extra layer of security in the classroom but some parents say they would like a more preventative approach to keeping the virus out of schools.

"We have enough for each student to take home four kits and we’re sending them home starting today,” says Principal Tracy Foster.

Since children under 12 are not eligible to be vaccinated against COVID-19, the hope is these take-home tests will detect the virus before it has a chance to spread to other students.

"(It's) another tool for families to use to make decisions if your children wake up with the sniffles," says Education Minister Becky Druhan. "It’s an accessible and easy-to-use test that can help give you information on how to decide to move through your day."

The kits will also provide an extra layer of comfort to teachers.

"It gives you the confidence of knowing that people in your class have been tested, you have negative results you’re not questioning whether anybody who is present maybe shouldn’t be," says Paul Wozney, president of the Nova Scotia Teacher’s Union.

Chris Hurry has twins in elementary school.

He says the take-home kits are a reactionary measure when the province should really be focusing more on preventing the spread of COVID-19in schools.

Hurry says he's in favour of better ventilation in classrooms, more sanitation and greater clarity from the province about infection rates.

"The testing kit would show us after we’ve been exposed. It’s not going to stop us before we’ve been exposed,” Hurry says.

Volunteers put the packages together. In total, 320,000 tests have been divided into 80,000 kits to be distributed around the province.