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Surrey students with COVID symptoms can get at-home gargle test

Last Updated May 6, 2021 at 12:23 pm PDT

Man is handed a saline solution and container ahead of a COVID-19 gargle test. (Courtesy PHSA)

At-home gargle test kit will be given to Surrey students who develop symptoms of COVID-19

Families are to drop off kits to LifeLabs locations, with results expected within 24 to 48 hours

Surrey school district says goal is to ensure students with symptoms at school have access to quick and easy testing

SURREY (NEWS 1130) – Students in Surrey who are showing COVID-19 symptoms at school will now be able to get tested for the virus at home.

The Surrey school district says students will be given take-home gargle test kits if they are suspected to have the coronavirus.

The goal is to ensure students who develop symptoms at school have access to quick and easy testing, in turn limiting the spread of COVID-19.

“The health and safety of all students, staff, and families is our priority, and by enabling parents to quickly test their children from the comfort of their own home, we can help prevent transmission of COVID-19 in schools and in our community,” said Dr. Ariella Zbar, Fraser Health medical health officer.

The test kits will be available at all elementary and secondary schools in Surrey. They will be used by students who experience fever, chills, cough or worsening of a chronic cough, difficulty breathing, loss of sense of smell or taste, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting.

The kits include instructions on how to take the gargle test. The samples must be dropped off at a LifeLabs location, and the district says results will be available within 24 to 48 hours.

The district says when a student starts displaying symptoms, they will be isolated and their family will be contacted.

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It notes that while the gargle test will be offered to the student, it’s not mandatory.

“The availability of these test kits is yet another way we are working with our partners in public health to safely keep our schools open,” said Laurie Larsen, Chair of the Surrey Board of Education. “This has been an unprecedented year, and the health and safety of our school communities has always been at the forefront of our work. We thank our staff, students, and larger school community for their vigilance and commitment to our health and safety protocols, and for their continued support over this past year.”

The initiative is part of a partnership between Surrey Schools, Fraser Health, and the BC Children’s Hospital.

Fraser Health says it is working with other school districts to bring in similar programs.