As students in the province prepare to return to the classroom next week, the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) said it is expecting to see an increase in COVID-19 tests performed on youth.

“I believe in the next coming weeks, we will be extremely busy testing a lot of children,” Meghan Forsythe, a COVID-19 swabber with the SHA, said.

Forsythe said they’re hoping to ease the anxiety around testing by reassuring kids, and their parents, that testers are not there to hurt them.

“We have 50 per cent [of kids] that are terrified to come in and 50 per cent of them come in and they say ‘that wasn’t as bad as I thought,’” Forsythe said. “Every kid if different when they come in.”

She said the testers focus on keeping the testing situation light and being overly friendly to children by introducing themselves and talking to them throughout the experience.

“Sometimes you’ll have a child that comes in and they’re upset, so in that case you try to put yourself in that situation,” she said.

She said one of the most important parts is making sure parents stay calm and collected, because their demeanour can play a big role in the experience for children.

“The calmer the parent, the calmer the child,” Forsythe explained. “It’s making sure that the parent isn’t overreacting to what’s about to happen because the child will always feed off of what the parent is feeling.”

Aven Leibel, an 11-year-old in Regina, said the testing experience for her wasn’t bad.

“It tickled like a bug was in your nose,” Aven said.

Her mom, Jayne Leibel, said she knew Aven would be in good hands when she went for her test.

“She’s a pretty tough kid, and with her dad there with her - he was actually getting swabbed at the same time - I think that made it a lot better,” Jayne said.

She added it’s important to explain to a child what they should expect.

“It’s just about letting them know that it’s not something to be scared of,” Jayne said. “It’s no worse than going to the doctor’s office. And it’s definitely not as bad as a needle, which most kids can relate to.”

Aven said she’d prefer the nose swab over a needle any day.

For kids who will be tested for COVID-19 in the future, she said her advice for them is not to worry.