With kids heading back to school in a couple of weeks, Alberta’s top doctor is recommending all teachers and school-based staff be tested at least once for COVID-19 before classes begin.

Dr. Deena Hinshaw says asymptomatic testing should also take place regularly throughout the academic year for school staff.

She notes Alberta teachers and staff who wish to access asymptomatic testing are encouraged to book a test as soon as possible.

“This is entirely voluntary,” says Hinshaw. “However, asymptomatic testing of staff in school settings will help us with a baseline understanding for school re-entry and ultimately help even more closely monitor the virus in the coming year”.

Hinshaw notes work is underway to expand Alberta’s testing capacity and information about additional options for testing will be shared soon.

She did stress this week however, that any Albertans who are not sick and have not been exposed to COVID-19 should consider holding off getting a test until after September 1st so the testing system can handle the number of school staff who decide to get tested for the virus before the start of the school year.

“Our testing capacity has expanded greatly, but no province in Canada can collect and process that many tests all at once. I am asking educational staff to arrange for tests proactively. Do not wait for the day before you’re set to return to school”, stressed Dr. Hinshaw Wednesday.

Alberta currently has around 90,000 teachers and staff who work in schools across the province.