School Protocol When Staff or Students Test Positive for COVID-19

Updated 2021/08/23

1. Local Public Health Unit (PHU) receives the positive test result and contacts the staff, student (or student’s parent/guardian) to conduct case management.

  • Individuals who test positive for COVID-19 will remain in isolation until three conditions have been met or as directed by Public Health
    • They have isolated for 10 days after the onset of symptoms; AND
    • They no longer have a fever (without using medication); AND
    • Their symptoms have been improving for at least 24 hours.
  • Students or staff do not need clearance testing or medical notes to return to school. May use Back to School Confirmation Form.
  • PHU will provide guidance and conduct follow-up with the family of a positive individual.

2. PHU contacts the school administration to ensure notification of the school and request cohort information of positive person.

3. School and transportation consortium (if applicable) provides information to PHU on student/staff who tested positive for COVID-19 as soon as possible.

  • Information needed may include:
    • Attendance records
    • Class/cohort lists and seating charts
    • Before and after school child care lists
    • Current contact information for students/staff, including date of birth (DOB)
    • Special assignments/programs/activities (e.g. Special Education)
    • Records of visitors
    • Transportation lists and seating charts (Transportation Consortium will provide)

4. The PHU will:

  1. Perform risk assessment of contacts (cohorts) of positive person.
  2. Provide school with list of individuals* who are considered high-risk contacts and low-risk contacts.
    • *High-risk contacts who are not fully vaccinated, will be required to:
      • Self-isolate at home for 10 days after they were in contact with student/staff who tested positive and be tested as per Public Health advice.
    • *Low-risk contacts will be required to:
      • Self-monitor for symptoms for 10 days; at the first sign of possible COVID-19 symptoms, self-isolate, go for testing and notify the local PHU.
      • May continue to attend school/work if asymptomatic.
  3. Contact all high-risk contacts.
  4. Provide instructions to school/schoolboard on parent communication.
  5. Provide school with recommendations for infection prevention and control measures.
  6. Determine if an outbreak will be declared.

5. School distributes communications to parents, guardians, and staff and conducts infection prevention and control measures as advised by PHU. Refer to "Communication Protocol for COVID-19 Case".

  • Where a confirmed case of COVID-19 is a potential source of exposure to others in a school setting, the Eastern Ontario Health Unit (EOHU) acts accordingly to notify those at risk of exposure. There may be variations in the delivery of notifications from case to case depending on the circumstances of the case in question. Where there is no risk of exposure, notification is not required.

School Administrator Responsibilities

In the event that a school or PHU is made aware of a positive COVID-19 diagnosis for staff or students, it is essential that the school administrator make key information pertaining to staff and students available quickly for the purposes of contact tracing. This information needs to be accessible by school administrators on short notice, both during and outside of school hours. Please prepare to have the following information available:

  • Attendance records for the specific dates that PHU requests
  • Class lists and seating charts for every class
  • Names, date of birth, and address for each student
  • Up-to-date contact information for the parent/guardian of each student, and for staff
  • Name and contact info for any staff/outside visitors who are not on the class list, that interacted with the class on the dates provided (e.g. supply teachers, service providers)
  • Before and after program child care lists
  • Special assignments and programs
  • Records of essential visitors
  • Transportation lists and seating charts (Transportation Consortium will provide)

Public Health Responsibilities

PHU will be responsible for conducting case and contact management activities. Measures will be taken to ensure privacy and avoid disclosure of details to the school community that would lead to the identification of a COVID-19 case.

PHU will provide schools with letters that can be used to communicate with their school community. The purpose of this communication is to provide reassurance and guidance and will not provide identifying details.

Declaring an outbreak

PHU will be responsible for determining if an outbreak exists, declaring an outbreak, and providing direction on outbreak control measures to be implemented.
PHU will assist in determining which cohort(s) may be sent home, or if a partial or full school closure is required.
PHU will also determine when an outbreak can be declared over.
PHU will report school outbreaks on their website.

*Personal Health Information

Personal health information may be disclosed to schools and this is for the purpose of contact tracing and should only be used for that purpose. Schools have an obligation to protect the personal information of their students. Do not further disclose the identity of the case except to those other school board employees who require it as part of their job function.
The identity of the case should not be disclosed to parents, or to other students unless deemed necessary by public health or unless given permission to do so by the case or their guardian.

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