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Children’s Health Coalition: Prioritize rapid tests for schools and child care and maintain safety measures for kids health

TORONTO, February 9, 2022 – As leaders in children’s health, we are pleased that additional Rapid Access Tests (RATs) are being made available to Ontarians. In the absence of widespread PCR testing, RATs are an important tool to continue to monitor and prevent COVID-19 transmission. We urge the government to ensure that every school, child care and health care setting continue to be prioritized in their distribution. Parents and families should be able to access RATs from their school or day care when they need it.

Additionally, we ask that the government exercise caution in lifting public health measures in schools too fast and too soon while we remain in the Omicron wave. Kids, parents and families have been subject to many rules and changes throughout the pandemic. They need stability. Ontario has a comprehensive school safety plan which includes many important public health mitigation measures, and we encourage government to continue with this plan.

We remain optimistic there will be a point when we can adjust these measures—but now is not the time. Many of our children remain unvaccinated, including those under five who are ineligible, and without that level of protection, they are at risk of contracting COVID-19 illness. And as we know too well, complex and medically fragile kids continue to be at greater risk of the effects of COVID. That’s why we must all continue to promote vaccination, masking and reducing of contacts to protect kids and their health. We all have a part to play in keeping our children healthy.

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.