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

Schools

Updated on 2022-09-02

School boards, schools and parents should visit this website regularly as information and resources related to COVID-19 are updated frequently.

On this page:

School and Child Care Screening

  • Staff and students should self-screen every day before attending school using the School and Child Care Screening tool.
  • IMPORTANT! Carefully read and follow the advice provided with the screening result.
  • COVID-19 Symptoms
    • Any one or more of:
      • Fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath, decrease or loss of taste or smell.
    • Two or more of:
      • Runny nose or nasal congestion, headache, extreme fatigue, sore throat, muscle aches/joint pain, gastrointestinal symptoms (i.e., vomiting or diarrhea).
  • Symptoms less likely to be COVID-19:
    • Only one of:
      • Runny nose or nasal congestion, headache, extreme fatigue, sore throat, muscle aches/joint pain, gastrointestinal symptoms (i.e., vomiting or diarrhea).
      • And/or any number of:
        • Abdominal pain
        • Pink eye
        • Decreased or no appetite (young children only)

Note: Anyone who is sick or has any symptoms of illness should stay home and complete the School and Child Care Screening to determine the next steps.

Resources

For Students and Staff with COVID-19 Symptoms

ALL students/staff with COVID-19 symptoms, who are not immunocompromised, should:

  • Self-isolate immediately until symptoms are improving for 24 hours (or 48 hours if gastrointestinal symptoms) and no fever is present.
  • Wear a well fitted mask in all public locations (including school) after self-isolation is complete until day 10 after the first day of symptoms or positive result. See Masking Recommendations for more information.
  • Students/staff with COVID-19 symptoms who are immunocompromised should contact public health or their healthcare provider for advice and additional precautions.

NOTE: ALL individuals with COVID-19 symptoms including those who did not test, those who received a positive test result and those who received a negative test result should follow the above recommendations. These additional precautions can be an added layer of prevention against the spread of COVID-19 and other respiratory viruses circulating in the community.

For Students and Staff with a Positive COVID-19 Test

  • Students/staff who don’t have symptoms and are not immunocompromised:
    • Do not need to isolate.
    • Should wear a well-fitted mask in all public settings (including schools) for 10 days following their positive test result. See Masking Recommendations for more information. 
    • Students/staff who have tested positive and have symptoms and are not immunocompromised, should:
      • Self-isolate immediately until symptoms are improving for 24 hours (or 48 hours if gastrointestinal symptoms) and no fever is present.
      • Wear a well-fitted mask in all public settings (including schools) after self-isolation is complete, until day 10 after the first day of symptoms or positive result. See Masking Recommendations for additional instructions.
    • Students/staff with a positive COVID-19 test who are immunocompromised should contact public health or their healthcare provider for advice and additional precautions.

For Students and Staff with Symptoms Less Likely to Be COVID-19 (Negative COVID-19 Test or No Test)

ALL students/staff with symptoms that are less likely to be COVID-19 should self-isolate immediately until symptoms are improving for 24 hours (or 48 hours if gastrointestinal symptoms) and no fever is present.

For Students and Staff Exposed to an Individual with COVID-19 Symptoms or Positive COVID-19 Test

  • Close contacts (high-risk contacts) who do NOT have symptoms:
    • Do not need to isolate.
    • Should wear a well-fitted mask in all public settings (including schools) for 10 days following the last exposure. See Masking Recommendations for more information.
  • Close contacts include those who had contact with an individual with COVID-19 symptoms or positive COVID-19 test within the 48 hours prior to their symptom onset (if symptomatic) or within 48 hours prior to specimen collection date and until they started self-isolating; AND were in close proximity (less than 2 meters) for at least 15 minutes or for multiple short periods of time without appropriate measures as masking, distancing and/or use of personal protective equipment.

Masking Recommendations

Wearing a mask in schools, school board offices and on student transportation is a personal choice except for a few situations where masks continue to be recommended. Please be kind to those who choose to wear a mask. Some individuals continue to be at risk of serious illness. Respect the risk tolerance and masking decisions of others.

Masks should be worn at school in the following situations:

  • If the student/staff is symptomatic with COVID-19 symptoms, they should wear a well-fitted mask for 10 days following the first day of symptoms or positive result.
  • If the student/staff is asymptomatic with positive COVID-19 test, they should wear a well-fitted mask for 10 days following the positive result.
  • If a student/staff is an asymptomatic close contact, they should wear a well-fitted mask at school for 10 days following the last exposure.
  • If a student becomes symptomatic while at school, suggest having the symptomatic student/child and the staff caring for the student/child wear a mask and maintain physical distancing until the student/child’s emergency contact arrives for pickup.
  • If a student/staff is returning from international travel and not fully vaccinated, they must wear a mask at all times when in public spaces (including schools) for 14 days, under current federal travel requirements.

NOTE: If you wear a mask at school as per the situations above:

  • Wear a mask at all times, including outdoors during recess.
  • Reasonable exceptions include temporary removal for essential activities like eating (e.g., when eating in a shared space while maintaining as much distance from others as possible).
  • Avoid non-essential activities where you need to take off your mask e.g.,
    • Playing a wind instrument in music class.
    • Participating in a high-contact and/or high-intensity activity or sport if a mask cannot be worn safely.

Resources

Reporting and Monitoring of COVID-19 Cases and Close Contacts

  • Cases of COVID-19 are no longer being reported to the Ministry of Health nor are they being published on the Ministry of Health website.
  • Parents/caregivers will NOT receive a letter from the school to advise them of a case of COVID-19 at school.
  • Should the absence rate in a school increase to 30% or greater and absences are not perceived to be linked to other factors (e.g., holidays), it is recommended that the school principal notify the EOHU.
  • The EOHU will review absence data and may provide schools/boards with additional guidance and support, including suggested resources for communication to students, staff and families.

Infection Prevention and Control

  • The government will continue to provide free high-quality masks for students and staff and eye protection for staff, if they choose to use them.
  • Appropriate hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette should continue to be promoted and integrated throughout the school day.
  • Schools and school vehicles are expected to continue with enhanced cleaning protocols requiring cleaning/disinfecting high-touch surfaces at least once daily.
  • School boards are expected to continue to implement ventilation best practice measures.
    • Ventilation systems should be operated two hours or more before the first occupant enters the building or after the last occupant leaves the building.
    • HEPA units are required in every occupied kindergarten class, in all occupied learning spaces without mechanical ventilation, and in mechanically ventilated learning spaces without MERV-13 level filters.
  • Schools and school boards should consider maintaining an isolation room in each school for students who become ill during the school day, as this will help to protect other students and staff from illness. Please note that maintaining an isolation room in each school is not a requirement but continues to be a good practice.
    • If this is not possible, other protective measures should be encouraged such as having the ill student and the staff caring for the student wear a mask and maintain physical distancing.
  • Consult Additional Infection Prevention and Control Resources

COVID-19 Safe Options for Planning Events in Schools

To support decision-making regarding an event, the Eastern Ontario Health Unit (EOHU) and Leeds, Grenville & Lanark District Health Unit (LGLDHU) encourage schools to consider their absenteeism rate and their community’s COVID-19 status. Refer to EOHU Local Status Updates and Statistics.

If you choose to plan or host a school event, consider the following health and safety measures:

  • Use a well-ventilated area with plenty of space where participants can physically distance if they choose to do so. Where possible, gather outdoors for more space and good ventilation.
    • If the event is held in an indoor crowded area, encourage participants to think about wearing a mask.
  • All participants (staff, students, volunteers, family members etc.) should self-screen prior to attending the event using the COVID-19 School and Child Care Screening tool.
    • Post a sign with COVID-19 symptoms at the entrance and ask participants not to enter if they have a symptom(s).
  • Post a sign reinforcing hand hygiene and provide hand sanitizer at key locations such as at the entrance or by shared items.
  • Encourage mask wearing, particularly if older adults or immunocompromised individuals will be participating in the event to help protect them from serious illness as a result of a COVID-19 infection.
  • If you are serving food, refer to Food in Schools during COVID-19 for more COVID-19 health and safety measures.

Additional Resources

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