Turnaround of testing results for Central Okanagan school students remains a concern for many parents, according to the Central Okanagan Teachers Association. (File photo)

Delays in COVID testing for Central Okanagan students persist

The Central Okanagan Teachers Association has raised the issue twice at the board of education meetings in the last month

  • Oct. 17, 2020 12:00 p.m.

Concerns about delays in COVID-19 testing since school resumed in September continue to percolate at the Central Okanagan Board of Education meetings.

Susan Bauhart, president of the Central Okanagan Teachers Association (COTA), brought up the issue at the Oct. 15 board of education meeting, after raising the question at an earlier board meeting last month.

Bauhart said COTA has been hearing complaints from parents about delays in getting the results of tests done on their kids, having to burn up sick days while their children remained at home until being cleared and spending hours on the phone waiting to make a connection to schedule the test.

Bauhart said the belief was test results would be completed within 48 hours, but parents are reporting having to wait four or five days for those results.

READ MORE: Four-hour wait time to book COVID test challenged

READ MORE: Interior Health prepared for pandemic breakouts in schools

“Delays in testing are huge issues for any worker, not just teachers but anyone who has to stay home from work in that situation, ” Bauhart said.

The board of education had no response to Bauhart’s query, but Central Okanagan Public Schools superintendent/CEO Kevin Kaardal said he would raise the issue in his weekly meeting with Interior Health (IH) staff to discuss the current status of COVID-19 in schools.

“So far we have been lucky not to have (COVID) exposure, but it will come,” Kaardal said.

The Kelowna Capital News made inquiries with IH after Bauhart first raised the issue last month. Our questions were referred to the ministries of health and education, along with comments made on the topic by provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry.

In a statement to the Capital News, a health authority spokesperson said the latest data at that time showed tests still coming back within 20-32 hours, the longest time being 32 hours in recent weeks.

A further IH statement read: “Periodically, testing surges occur as we have seen recently. When they do, the BC CDC absorbs some of our testing demand to prevent delays in results. Courier runs are increased to match demand and we have not seen any change to our turnaround time.

“Urgent testing, including potential school exposures, continues to be done locally.”

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