VICTORIA – Further pandemic supports are coming for B.C. students and schools, with 300,000 rapid antigen test kits to be delivered in phases.

Phase one will include rural and remote school districts with tests being used by students displaying symptoms of COVID-19.

School District 59 (Peace River South) and School District 81 (Fort Nelson) will be among the districts that will receive the test kits first.

“By making rapid tests available to symptomatic students in rural and remote communities, we are using an additional tool to strengthen the continuity of learning,” said Jennifer Whiteside, Minister of Education.

“Since the return to class on Jan. 10, teachers and staff in B.C. have worked diligently to ensure classrooms and schools continue to be safe places and spaces for students to learn. I thank them for the tireless work they do each day to give students every opportunity to achieve their best.” Whiteside continued.

To be sure that communities that are located further away from regional testing facilities have access to tests, school districts will hand out the five-pack test kits to students whose families reside in rural and remote regions of B.C.

In phase two, tests will be shipped for students aged five to 11 in school districts within the Northern and Interior health authorities.

These test kits are in addition to the more than 200,000 test kits shipped in mid-January for symptomatic staff, teachers and administrators.

Test kits for staff have started to arrive in communities throughout B.C., with two tests available for every kindergarten to Grade 12 employee.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, the province has invested $114.5 million to help school districts upgrade ventilation in thousands of classrooms around B.C.

Additional support is available to implement targeted improvements, with a focus on deploying portable HEPA filtration units in classrooms with no access to mechanical ventilation systems

The school districts first to receive test kits for students include Rocky Mountain (SD 6), Kootenay Lake (SD 8), Arrow Lakes (SD 10), Cariboo-Chilcotin (SD 27), Central Coast (SD 49), Haida Gwaii (SD 50), Boundary (SD 51), Nicola-Similkameen (SD 58), Peace River South (SD 59), Gulf Islands (SD 64), Gold Trail (SD 74), Fort Nelson (SD 81), Coast Mountains (SD 82), Vancouver Island West (SD 84), Stikine (SD 87), Nechako Lakes (SD 91) and Nisga’a (SD 92).