Managing Students With COVID-19 Symptoms at School – Instructions for Staff

Updated 2021/02/18

Student presents with at least one of the following symptoms that is new or worsening, and not related to other known causes or conditions*:

  • fever and/or chills
  • cough
  • shortness of breath
  • decrease or loss of taste or smell
  • sore throat or difficulty/painful swallowing
  • stuffy and/or runny nose
  • headache
  • nausea, vomiting and/or diarrhea
  • extreme tiredness or muscle aches

*For more information about these symptoms, consult Ontario's COVID-19 School and Child Care Screening Tool.


Perform hand hygiene, put on a procedural/surgical mask (if not already wearing one), and goggles or face shield, and immediately bring the student to the isolation room.
Gown and gloves are advised if bodily fluids are involved and/or 2-metre distance cannot be consistently maintained at all times.
Refer to Recommended Steps for Putting On and Taking Off PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) and How to Put on and Take Off a Medical Mask and Eye Protection.

Provide the student with a procedural/surgical grade mask to be worn. Ensure the student remains in the isolation room until they're able to leave.

Notify the student’s emergency contact and advise regarding:

  • Symptoms
  • That the student needs to be picked up ASAP.
  • NEW! ALL asymptomatic siblings/household members must also be picked up and stay home until COVID-19 has been ruled out.
  • Public transportation must not be used (taxi is ok).
  • Need to notify the school upon arrival (e.g. through intercom or by calling) and wait outside of school.
  • Need to complete the COVID-19 School and Child Care Screening Tool with their child and to follow guidance provided.

Monitor the student until they are picked up.
Maintain at least a 2-metre distance (if possible). Hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette should be practised while the ill individual is waiting to be picked up.
If the student must use a washroom, ensure it is vacant before use and that it is not used by others until it is cleaned and disinfected.

When the student’s emergency contact arrives, ensure a clear pathway to the exit and bring the student to the door. Refer them to the Return to School Protocols for Staff and Students with COVID-19 Symptoms.

Once the student has departed, remove PPE and seal in a bag for disposal.
Perform hand hygiene.
Refer to Recommended Steps for Putting On and Taking Off PPE

Ensure that the isolation room and all items used by the symptomatic student are identified, and are cleaned and disinfected.
Any school items that cannot be cleaned must be stored in a labelled and sealed bag or container for 7 days. If the COVID-19 test comes back negative the contents can be removed from bag.

Principals must contact the appropriate local public health unit (PHU) to report a confirmed COVID-19 individual. Schools are not required to report all ill individuals to the PHU. Schools are welcome to call the PHU if clarification is required:

  • Eastern Ontario Health Unit: 1-800-267-7120 (press “5”)
  • Leeds, Grenville & Lanark District Health Unit: 1-800-236-0123
Eastern Ontatio Health Unit / Bureau de santé de l'Ontario