Beginning on Monday, January 18, 2021, the Fast Pass pilot project will offer COVID-19 rapid tests for educators.
For the first two weeks, access will be limited to those working in the Winnipeg, Seven Oaks, River East Transcona, Seine River and Hanover school divisions.
“We’re pleased to hear that teachers will now have access to rapid testing,” said MTS President James Bedford. “Every bit helps when it comes to getting qualified teachers back into the classroom sooner. Hopefully this can ease some workload issues arising from staff shortages due to teachers following public health orders on self-isolating.”
These divisions were selected due to their proximity to the testing site, their experiences managing COVID, to ensure a rural/urban balance and the fact that they represent 30 per cent of education staff. Staff from other divisions will be able to access the rapid testing site in February.
Bedford said it is unfortunate that the tests are not available in rural and northern areas of the province.
“Teachers and substitutes are already in short supply in rural and northern areas and the pandemic has exacerbated that shortage,” he said. “I look forward to hearing about the province’s plans to make rapid testing accessible to teachers outside of Winnipeg and surrounding areas.”
To make an appointment for a rapid test please call 1-855-268-4318.
You will be asked screening questions to determine eligibility for a rapid test. Please note that rapid tests will be done on symptomatic patients and a school or division identification card is required at the testing site as proof of eligibility. If you do not have a school or division identification card, please contact your school or division for a letter confirming your identify and eligibility.
Results for positive tests are expected within eight hours following the test. During the pilot phase, secondary screening will be required for those with a negative or inconclusive result. The secondary screening will not require a second COVID test. The same sample will undergo the regular COVID-19 test for confirmation. The result should be available in 48 hours.
Bedford said the next step is to make teachers and those working in public education a priority for the COVID-19 vaccine.
“The pandemic has reaffirmed that education is an essential service. The province is under a Code Red, but schools are still open. Teachers are still teaching in classrooms,” he said. “We would like to see a plan for inoculation which includes teachers as a priority.”
The rapid testing site is located at 1066 Nairn Avenue.