Take-home COVID-19 gargle testing kits offered in Vancouver schools

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Kids who develop symptoms of COVID-19 may be sent home from school with easy-to-use testing kits thanks to a new program through the BC Children’s Hospital.

The program is aiming to make COVID-19 testing more accessible and less stressful for kids, teens and parents. It also comes as the province is recording its highest ever rate of new COVID-19 cases.

Microbiologist Dr. David Goldfarb of BC Children’s says the program began as a pilot project.

“We began to work with the school system to try to make testing children for COVID-19 more feasible for families,” said Goldfarb in a news statement.


The program, which is only available in Vancouver, is likely to expand to other districts across the province. After using the gargle test, families can drop off the sample at a LifeLabs clinic for analysis.

“We found that school-aged children were generally quite good at collecting these samples … with some parental support,” Goldfarb added. “This facilitated a home-based collection approach.”

The hospital says it’s handing out 1,200 kits to schools in Vancouver, which means about 12 kits per school, and the stock will be replenished as needed.

Part of B.C.’s approach to managing coronavirus infections at schools is for families and teachers to constantly monitor for symptoms of COVID-19 in students. Those with symptoms aren’t allowed to attend school, meaning that kids who have a runny nose may be sent home.

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The new project may reduce stress for families and kids because kids can do the test from home, and don’t need to visit a medical facility.

“Families said they appreciated having the kits given directly to them when they picked up their unwell child at school,” reads the news statement.  

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