New COVID-19 test for school-aged children & youth

Today, B.C. is rolling out a new COVID-19 testing option for school-aged students in kindergarten through Grade 12. This new method involves swishing and gargling sterile salt water and spitting it into a collection tube. It will replace the swab test for children and can determine whether the child or youth has COVID-19.

These tests are now available at numerous assessment centres and test collection centres across B.C. Saline gargle/rinse is equivalent to nasopharyngeal swab as a sample when testing for COVID-19, and can be more efficiently tested using automated testing systems, compared to saliva/spit.

This is an important development for B.C.’s back-to-school plan. Parents and caregivers should assess their child daily for key symptoms of illness before sending them to school. Appendix C of the Public Health Guidance for K-12 Schools provides an example of a daily health check. If a child has one symptom that persists for more than 24 hours, a fever, or two or more symptoms from the list, they should be assessed to determine if they should seek testing for COVID-19. 

Families and students are encouraged to look at the testing information for children and youth on the B.C. Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) website to find information about the testing process, watch a video about what to expect and find information on how to get test results. The video and instructions are especially important for younger students who should practice the mouth rinse and gargle technique at home with water at least two hours before going for a test.

Wait times for COVID-19 test collection centres are also available online at

Quick links:

COVID-19 test collection centres wait times website

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