Teachers were ready and willing to get their throats swabbed to test for COVID-19 after waiting six months to get back into classrooms, says a Red Deer pharmacist.
Earlier this week, both Red Deer Public Schools and Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools reopened classrooms after the pandemic closed all schools in the province on March 15.
“I didn’t see anyone complaining about it,” said Pratik Patel, pharmacist and owner of Medicine Shoppe Pharmacy, about the teachers he tested.
“They were happy to do whatever it takes to go back to work. Also, they were happy about the fact that the community was doing something to protect the kids.”
Alberta teachers and school-based staff had been encouraged to get tested for COVID-19 before school started, and regularly throughout the year.
Thirteen pharmacies in Red Deer offer asymptomatic testing.
Patel said he has been busy testing teachers for the past three weeks, and so far, all the test results have come back negative.
Teachers told him they will return for additional tests if there are possible COVID cases, or COVID outbreaks at their schools.
He said allowing tests to be done at pharmacies was a good idea to ensure better access.
“If there were no pharmacies doing it, it could be a real disaster,” Patel said.
Only people with no symptoms, and no known exposure to COVID-19, can be tested at a pharmacy.
Albertans who are well and asymptomatic and wanting to be tested need to call ahead to the pharmacy to arrange an appointment for testing and additional instructions.
Pharmacies offering testing are posted on Alberta Blue Cross’s COVID-19 website.
Alberta Health Services says asymptomatic testing is encouraged:
• Before or after spending time with individuals who have a higher risk of serious health outcomes (e.g., anyone over 65 or with underlying medical conditions);
• Before or after travelling internationally, attending an event with recent travellers or hosting them;
• Before or after participating in activities or events that may have put you at a higher risk of exposure (e.g., a large gathering where physical distancing was not followed);
• For frontline workers who have regular interactions with Albertans, particularly those at higher risk of serious outcomes.