No positive cases found in more than 250 rapid tests conducted at Hamilton schools

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Voluntary asymptomatic testing at two Hamilton schools on Friday and Saturday found no positive cases of COVID-19 among more than 250 participants.

Testing is being offered to asymptomatic students and staff on a voluntary basis as part of a provincial mandate that boards offer tests in five per cent of their schools — and at least two per cent of their students — each week.

At the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board, 142 people — 90 students and 52 staff — were tested on Friday at a clinic at Saltfleet District High School in Stoney Creek. About 3,600 in-person learners — plus educators and child-care workers — from Saltfleet and its eight elementary feeder schools were eligible.

“The weather was better this time than the first one at (Orchard Park),” said spokesperson Shawn McKillop in an email to The Spectator.

Fewer than 100 students and staff participated in Feb. 13 pilot clinics at Orchard Park Secondary School in Stoney Creek and Bishop Ryan Catholic Secondary School in Hannon on a snowy long weekend. Among the 86 participants — 65 students and 21 staff — no positive cases of the virus were detected.

McKillop said the Saltfleet clinic was promoted to more HWDSB families and that there may be “more awareness in our community in general related to the testing.”

Testing at Saltfleet exceeded the 130-test capacity indicated by the vendor last week. The board said on Monday the vendor likely had “additional supplies” to accommodate walk-ins.

“There was no individual turned away,” he said.

At the Catholic board, a total of 114 people — 62 students and 52 staff — were tested a St. John Henry Newman Catholic Secondary School in Stoney Creek on Friday and Saturday.

Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board chair Pat Daly said the number of staff tested was “more aligned” with what they had anticipated.

“With regard to students, I believe we had expected somewhat of a higher turnout,” he said.

On Thursday, 29 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests were conducted at St. Ann Catholic Elementary School in central Hamilton, which had been in outbreak until Sunday.

The board said Monday the PCR test results have yet to be confirmed.

Kate McCullough, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Hamilton Spectator