NOTICE: As of January 11 2022, we have suspended the RAT Tracker project. Please read the following article for our rationale.
Why is this needed?
Due to the exponential surge of the Omicron variant, laboratory PCR testing capacity is under strain, which has resulted in considerable under-reporting of COVID cases in Toronto. At the same time, the availability of rapid antigen tests (RATs) has allowed individuals to conduct their own tests at home. However, there is presently no way to report RAT test results so that they can contribute to population-level surveillance of COVID and help inform the safe return to in-person schooling.
How does RAT Tracker work?
RAT Tracker is a citizen-powered tool for anonymous reporting of RAT results—positive and negative—for Toronto students.
Prior to the winter break, each student was provided with a RAT kit and asked to test every three to four days over the holidays. Many families also obtained additional RAT kits through other mechanisms. You can submit both past and present results, as long as the test was conducted after the start of winter break (December 17).
RAT Tracker is a simple tool that allows individuals to play a role in filling in the data gap. It takes about 30 seconds to complete, and asks for just four pieces of information:
- Date of test
- Age range of individual tested
- Result of test (positive or negative)
- School (Toronto public schools)
That’s it. It’s all done using The Local’s HIPAA-compliant submission form.
How will the data be used?
The data collected will be aggregated to compose an overall picture of the COVID situation at each school. This will be published on The Local’s website during the week of January 5, 2022 to help inform parents, students, and education staff about the safety of their schools.
How many test results have been submitted?
RAT Tracker was launched on January 1. As of January 3, more than 2,000 test results had been submitted. Our goal is to have at least 10,000 test results in the first week. As more tests are submitted, the precision of the data improves, allowing us to break the numbers down at the school level. The map below shows where the test results submissions are coming from, by postal code. Please help us get more data, especially from the under-reported areas of the city.
Who is The Local?
The Local is an independent, not-for-profit journalism organization that reports on urban health and social issues in Toronto. Our award-winning journalism is in-depth, non-partisan, and abides by a strong code of ethics. Additional information about us can be found here.