Return to School/Child Care Protocols During COVID-19

The criteria required for a student or staff to return to school/child care following an illness or absence is dependant on a number of factors.

The local Health Units are not recommending or requiring medical notes for return to school/child care. Parents can complete a Back to School/ Child Care Confirmation Form to attest the child is safe to return to school.

Close Contact of Someone With COVID-19

Students and staff in close contact with a person with COVID-19 must stay home and self-isolate for 14 days from their last date of exposure, even if they do not have symptoms or receive a negative COVID-19 test result.

Their asymptomatic household members, including siblings and caregivers, will be asked to stay home for the duration of the close contact’s quarantine, except for essential reasons. Essential reasons include attending work or school/childcare, errands for food, medication, and essential medical appointments.

Travel Outside of Canada

Students and staff who have travelled outside of Canada must self-isolate for 14 days, even if they are symptom-free. Their household members do not need to self-isolate if they have not travelled, if they don't have symptoms of COVID-19, and if they are not a close contact of a positive case.

Symptoms in Students

The Ministry of Health has updated COVID-19 symptom screening.

Students with any of these symptoms (not chronic or related to other known causes or conditions) are advised to self-isolate until they are able to consult with a health care provider and receive an alternative diagnosis or a negative COVID-19 test:

  • Fever/chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Decreased or loss of smell or taste
  • Sore throat
  • Stuffy nose/runny nose
  • Headache
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue/lethargy/muscle aches or malaise

NEW! ALL household members must self-isolate until the symptomatic individual receives a negative test result or an alternative diagnosis from a health care provider confirming their symptoms are not related to COVID-19.

To know when they can return to school, see the recommendations according to COVID-19 Test Result and/or Health Assessment.

Symptoms in Staff

It is strongly recommended that staff with any symptoms of COVID-19 and no known alternative diagnosis be tested for COVID-19. To know when staff can return to work, see the recommendations according to COVID-19 Test Result and/or Health Assessment.

COVID-19 Test Results and/or Health Assessment

NOTE: While they are waiting for a COVID-19 test or results, or to be assessed, a student/staff (as well as all members of their household) must remain in self-isolation and cannot attend school in-person, even if symptoms improve.

Negative COVID-19 Test Result

If a student/staff member has tested negative for COVID-19 and is not a contact of someone who has tested positive, they can return to school if all of the following apply:

  • They do not have a fever for 24 hours (without using medication).
  • It has been at least 24 hours since their symptoms started improving (e.g. only occasional clear mucous from nose; no discharge from eyes; coughing does not interfere with activity; no headache; throat not sore with eating or drinking).
  • They have signs they are feeling well (e.g. eating, drinking and sleeping well; normal personality; enough energy for daily activities).

Household members can immediately cease self-isolation if they are symptom-free.

Note: If a staff/student has had known close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 or the staff/student has travelled out of country, they must self-isolate until 14 days have passed since their last exposure, as directed by Public Health, even if they do not have symptoms and/or have a negative test result. Their asymptomatic household members, including siblings and caregivers, will also be asked to stay home for the duration of their quarantine, except for essential reasons. Essential reasons include attending work or school/childcare, errands for food, medication, and essential medical appointments.

Positive COVID-19 Test Result

Students/staff who test positive for COVID-19 will be contacted by the Eastern Ontario Health Unit (EOHU) to conduct contact tracing. The EOHU will provide guidance and conduct daily follow-up with the family of a positive case and will advise on when the period of self-isolation is complete and a return to school is advised.

Students or staff do not need clearance testing or medical notes to return to school. Check with your school board regarding their protocols.

Symptomatic, But Not Tested for COVID-19

Symptomatic students/staff who are not tested for COVID-19 with an alternative diagnosis from a health care provider that confirms the symptoms are not related to COVID-19 can go back to school/child care once their symptoms have been improving for 24 hours. Household members without symptoms can stop self-isolating immediately when COVID-19 is ruled out.

If a test is recommended but the student/staff is not tested, they must self-isolate for 10 days from the date their symptom(s) first appeared. ALL household members must then quarantine for 14 days from their last contact with the symptomatic individual. Note: If the symptomatic individual cannot isolate from the rest of the household, ALL household members must quarantine for 14 days, starting from the end of the symptomatic individual’s isolation period.

Eastern Ontatio Health Unit / Bureau de santé de l'Ontario