BARRIE, ONT. -- The Simcoe Muskoka Catholic District School Board is taking a proactive approach against the COVID-19 virus.

As classes ended Wednesday afternoon, students and staff from surrounding Catholic schools began lining up outside St. Joan of Arc Catholic High School to start asymptomatic testing.

The voluntary testing is part of a province-wide initiative seeking five per cent of students and staff in schools without symptoms to determine how widespread the virus is within the community.

The clinic ran from 3 p.m. until 7 p.m., with medical laboratory company LifeLabs conducting the testing, which the Ministry of Education is funding.

"One of the challenges that we hope we don't face is having people participate. So far, so good, which is great, but it is only going to be as effective as the people that show up and take advantage of this asymptomatic testing," said Pauline Stevenson, communications manager with the board.

Staff from LifeLabs administered the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) nasal swab tests. The less-invasive test uses a shorter Q-tip-like swab that doesn't reach as far back in the nasal passage as the standard COVID-19 test and can take up to 48 hours for the results.

Students and staff that agree to take the voluntary testing will be allowed to return to school the next day.

The program is expected to run every Wednesday at a different high school for the next nine weeks, with the next clinic scheduled for March 10 at St. Peter's Catholic Secondary School.

With files from CTV's Craig Momney