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

Updated 2021/02/18

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.

  • Students/staff who test positive for COVID-19 will be contacted by the PHU to conduct contact tracing. PHU 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's protocols

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
    • Special assignments/programs/activities (e.g. Special Education)
    • Records of essential 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  will be required to self-isolate at home for 14 days after they were in contact with student/staff who tested positive, and will be tested as per Public Health advice:
      • Symptomatic student/staff should be tested.
        • 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 the symptoms are not related to COVID-19.
      • Asymptomatic students/staff who are identified as high-risk contacts (e.g. student/staff in the same class as a lab confirmed COVID-19 positive case), are advised to go for testing no earlier than 7 days after initial close contact with the case.
      • NEW! At this time, All household members of a high-risk contact that is asymptomatic should also stay home for the duration of the high-risk contact's isolation period, except for essential reasons.
    • Low-risk contacts may continue to attend school/work and will be required to self-monitor for symptoms for 14 days.
  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. Rotary 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 laboratory confirmed COVID-19 case.

PHU will provide schools with letters that can be used to communicate with their school community. The purpose of this communication would be to provide reassurance and guidance and would not provide specific information or 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 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