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The impact of delayed rapid tests for Alberta schools


Alberta’s restock of COVID-19 rapid antigen tests has been delayed, raising questions if all Alberta schools will receive a shipment of the at-home test by the end of the week, as promised by the province.

Health minister Jason Copping said more than a million rapid testing kits have been shipped to schools across the province but added that they are facing delivery delays for the 16 million tests they were expecting by the end of the month from the federal government.

Deliveries have started to arrive at Calgary’s two largest school boards, but not nearly enough.

The Calgary Catholic School Division for example, has received five of the 32 pallets of rapid tests kits. That amounts to 9, 720 rapids tests for a student population of 56,000.

Copping said four million tests are committed to schools by January 24th, two weeks after the return from an extended winter break.

In a series of tweets, he said Alberta has yet to receive four million tests that were ordered for December and have only received 500,000 tests so far this month.

Ottawa said it’s doing everything it can to increase supply but says the Omicron wave and supply issues have made securing the tests a challenge.

“This is a very competitive market. We are doing absolutely everything we can to procure as many tests as possible,” said federal procurement minister Filomena Tasso.

The delay comes as Alberta’s PCR testing capacity is overwhelmed and eligibility for a screening is limited.

As a result, more people are seeking out rapid antigen tests with more than five million sent to pharmacies. However, according to the Blue Cross, there weren’t any available at pharmacies as of January 7th.


Abdul Kangi with Corner DrugStore in Calgary’s East Village said his shipment expected this week has been postponed with no reschedule date set.

“It’s disappointing we didn’t get them on time when we promise our customers they’ll be here and then we tell them we don’t have them they get really disappointed and we’re caught in the middle here,” he said.

“Now that there is a supply problem I would strongly suggest people only use it when they need to," he added. "If they have symptom use it, if you don’t just keep it for future use because we need a lot more kits.”

Copping said the province has procured tests privately as well but says those manufacturers are also facing delays. He said there was no timeline from the federal government when shipments will begin to arrive but once they do, priority will be given to health care workers, First Nation communities and schools.

As of Wednesday, The Calgary Board of Education said three schools had moved seven classes online due to COVID concerns.

The Catholic system had moved two classes online and said 95 schools out of 117 were reporting 10 per cent or greater student absenteeism. The CCDS said it will be using a 25 per cent threshold to transition to emergency learning at home for 10 calendar days. Top Stories

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