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Quebec vaccination head to take over deployment of COVID-19 rapid tests in schools

Students wear face masks as they arrive for the first day of school in Montreal, Tuesday, August 31, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS IMAGES/Graham Hughes

MONTREAL — The head of Quebec’s COVID-19 vaccination strategy will oversee the deployment of rapid tests in schools after administrators criticized the rollout of the program.

Daniel Pare will be responsible for ensuring that schools across the province have access to rapid COVID-19 testing, Health Minister Christian Dube said Tuesday on Twitter.

An association representing school administrators in Montreal said on Monday that some schools had not yet received the rapid test kits.

Kathleen Legault, president of L’Association montrealaise des directions d’etablissement scolaire, said training videos had been received on Friday but they were aimed at medical professionals, not teachers. She said that while each test takes about 15 minutes, preparation time and verifying parental consent can take another 15 to 20 minutes.

“The teachers absolutely do not have the time to do these tests,” Legault said Monday in an interview. “So, we’re asking, who will conduct the tests? Because no staff has been added, no money has been added for this and we already have a shortage of staff in our schools.”

Earlier on Tuesday, Quebec reported 633 new cases of COVID-19 and seven more deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus. The Health Department said hospitalizations rose by three from the day before, to 230, and 78 people were in intensive care, a rise of three. Authorities said 14,116 doses of vaccine were administered Monday.

Quebec’s public health institute says 88.4 per cent of residents 12 and over have received at least one dose of vaccine and 83.4 per cent are considered adequately vaccinated.

The public health institute says Laval, a large suburb of Montreal, is the most affected region in the province, with 196.6 active cases per 100,000 people, followed by the neighbouring region of Lanaudiere, with 113.4 active cases per 100,000 people. Across Quebec, there are 72.6 active cases per 100,000 people.