Beginning this month, students in the Vancouver School District who develop symptoms of COVID-19 at school can receive a BC Children's Hospital Mouth Rinse/Gargle Sample Collection kit from their school to take home. The sample can then simply be dropped off to the safe, secure location at BC Children’s that is listed in the kit or to any LifeLabs location.
“We began to work with the school system to try to make testing children for COVID-19 more feasible for families,” says BC Children’s Medical Microbiologist Dr. David Goldfarb. “We found that school-aged children were generally quite good at collecting these samples on their own with some parental support and this facilitated a home-based collection approach.”
The move follows a four-month field test in ten schools. The test schools included David Livingstone Elementary School, Lord Roberts Elementary School, Lord Roberts School Annex, Elsie Roy Elementary School, Mount Pleasant Elementary School, Charles Dickens Elementary, Charles Dickens School Annex, King George Secondary School, Simon Fraser Elementary School and Queen Alexandra Elementary School.
The purpose of this pilot phase was to distribute the kits to the schools and families, have families complete the sample collection at home and see if the samples would arrive at the lab. They did and the field test was a success!
Families said they appreciated having the kits given directly to them when they picked up their unwell child at school. They said it was also handy not to have to take their child to a collection centre. Children can have diverse needs and families in the field test said the ability to collect the sample in a familiar place greatly reduced stress.
Parents and children are asked to monitor for symptoms of COVID-19
before children attend school each day. If they have any symptoms,
children should remain at home and access testing at a collection
centre, if advised. For more information on testing, see the BC Centre for Disease Control Testing Information website.
BC Children’s will initially be handing out 1,200 kits: twelve kits for each elementary and secondary school in the district, with more being sent as needed. The hospital is also looking at offering kits to other districts across the province.