MONTREAL -- Quebec says the rollout of rapid tests for COVID-19 in elementary schools will now extend to 10 regions.

The Ministry of Health said it wants to prevent outbreaks and minimize classroom closures with the tests, which provide a result within 15 minutes.

Preschool and elementary schools will begin administering the rapid tests by the end of September, "when they are ready, once the training is completed," the government said, noting that meetings with many stakeholders have already taken place.

The rollout will reach nearly 1,600 schools and will continue in all Quebec elementary schools "within the next few weeks," the Ministry of Health said late Friday afternoon in a press release.

Daniel Paré, director of the Quebec vaccination campaign, was given the mandate to coordinate this vast deployment operation.

The 10 regions targeted are those where the risk of an outbreak is greatest due to the epidemiological situation:

  • Mauricie
  • Centre-du-Québec
  • Eastern Townships
  • Montreal
  • Outaouais
  • Chaudière-Appalaches: Beauce-Sartigan, Appalaches and Etchemins
  • Laval
  • Lanaudière
  • Laurentians
  • Montérégie.

The tests will be used for students who develop COVID-19 symptoms during the day and priority will be given in high-transmission areas.

Parents will be asked for permission for the testing by completing a consent form provided by the school. Without such consent, no testing can be done.

In the case of a positive test, the student will be isolated and the parent will be contacted by phone so that he or she can pick up the child, the ministry said. The child will have to take a second test at a testing center.

More than 155,000 tests have been distributed to the network. More tests will eventually be delivered to meet the needs of schools without delay, it said.

-- This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on Sept. 17, 2021.