A child self-administers a take-home COVID-19 test kit.
A child self-administers a take-home COVID-19 test kit provided by Michael Garron Hospital.

Common questions about MGH's take-home COVID-19 PCR test kits

Michael Garron Hospital (MGH) is distributing take-home COVID-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test kits to schools, child care centres and families in East Toronto. The kits are one of the many ways that MGH is helping to prevent and limit the spread of COVID-19. Learn more about the take-home test kits below.

1. Who can use MGH's take-home COVID-19 PCR test kits?

Effective December 31, 2021, take-home COVID-19 PCR test kits provided by MGH will be prioritized for symptomatic students, education staff and high-risk individuals in East Toronto who meet testing eligibility. COVID-19 symptoms may include common cold and flu symptoms (see Question 3).

A sign points clients toward the COVID-19 Outreach Centre in Crescent Town.

2. Where can I get a take-home COVID-19 PCR test kit?

Participating schools and childcare centres in East Toronto will give take-home PCR test kits to staff and children who have COVID-19 symptoms or if another person in their class tested positive for COVID-19. Please contact your school or childcare centre to confirm if they have take-home test kits available. Schools and child care centres in East Toronto that would like to receive take-home test kits can contact @email.

Symptomatic students and education staff who meet testing eligibility can pick up take-home PCR test kits from:

  • MGH's COVID-19 Assessment Centre. See location and hours: tehn.ca/AssessmentCentre
  • Any of our COVID-19 Outreach Centres in East Toronto. We have locations in Danforth Village, Flemingdon Park, Taylor-Massey and more. See locations and hours: tehn.ca/CovidOutreachCentres

You do not need an appointment to pick up or drop off a take-home test kit. Due to increased testing volumes and limited supply, availability of take-home test kits varies at our sites. We recommend each household pick up one take-home test kit at a time. Additional kits may be provided on a case-by-case basis (for example, if a family has multiple children who need a test).

3. When should I use a take-home COVID-19 PCR test kit?

If students, education staff or high-risk individuals meet testing eligibility and have at least one of these COVID-19 symptoms:

  • Runny nose
  • Headache
  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Any other common cold and fly symptoms

*Some of these symptoms are not included in Ontario's new school screening guidelines. However, it is important that you complete a test if you, your child or family member have any of these symptoms so we can find positive COVID-19 cases and stop the spread as early as possible. COVID-19 symptoms are often indistinguishable from cold and flu symptoms.

Dr. Janine McCready
Dr. Janine McCready, infectious diseases physician at MGH, holds a take-home COVID-19 test kit.

4. How does the take-home COVID-19 PCR test kit work?

MGH's take-home PCR test kits are oral-nasal swabs that can be collected by staff, children and families at home. This means they do not need to be done by a health care provider. This helps make COVID-19 testing as easy and convenient as possible for symptomatic students, education staff and high-risk individuals who meet testing eligibility. Every kit comes with instructions for how to administer the test at home, where to drop it off for processing and how to get the results.

An oral-nasal swab involves rubbing the inside of the mouth and the front of the nose with a swab for less than five seconds. It is less invasive than the nasopharyngeal (NP) swab that is commonly used for COVID-19 tests. This helps increase the likelihood that children and youth will have pleasant testing experiences. The oral-nasal test is a laboratory-validated PCR test, not a rapid antigen test. This means a second test is not needed to confirm a positive result. Results should be available at covid19.tehn.ca within 96 hours.

5. How do I administer a take-home COVID-19 PCR test kit?

Watch the video below to see how the oral-nasal swab works. The video can also be accessed here: tehn.ca/OralNasalSwab

Download MGH’s take-home COVID-19 test kit instructions in Amharic, Arabic, Bengali, French, Pashto, Slovak, Spanish, Tagalog, Tigrinya and Urdu.

6. Where do I drop off a completed take-home COVID-19 PCR test kit?

  • MGH's COVID-19 Assessment Centre. See location and hours: tehn.ca/AssessmentCentre
  • Any of our COVID-19 Outreach Centres in East Toronto. We have locations in Danforth Village, Flemingdon Park, Taylor-Massey and more. See locations and hours: tehn.ca/CovidOutreachCentres

You do not need an appointment to drop off a completed take-home test kit at these locations. You can walk in at any time when the sites are open. Our COVID-19 Outreach Centres also offer walk-in PCR testing for eligible individuals if you prefer to have a healthcare provider do the oral-nasal swab for you.

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