Principals and school staff can contact the health unit to report an increase in illness within a student and/or staff population at a school. An increase of illness can be seen within the whole school, or just within a classroom. Most often these illness are either respiratory (e.g. colds or influenza) or gastrointestinal (nausea, vomiting and diarrhea). School staff play a key role in preventing the spread of common childhood diseases at home and within the school by educating children and their caregivers on infection prevention and control.
Infection prevention and control education to children and their caregivers should include:
- When and how to perform hand hygiene - hand washing using soap and running water for 15 seconds or using alcohol based hand rub "hand sanitizer" for 15 seconds when hands are not visibly soiled
- Respiratory etiquette (covering coughs and sneezes)
- Excluding students from school if they are sick
- Keeping student’s immunizations up to date.
Infection prevention and control programs are important in maintaining our Healthy Schools. Educators, School Boards, health care providers, public health and parents: we are all partners in preventing the spread of infectious diseases in school settings.
'Be A Germ Stopper!' – Suggested for Kindergarten to Grade 8. This teacher resource manual promotes hand hygiene for children in elementary schools with appropriate lesson plans, fun activities and stories which are linked to the Ontario Curriculum. This teacher manual (available in English and French) can be downloaded in two parts.
- Bug Out! Get the Facts on Germs – Suggested for Kindergarten to Grade 8. This resource (which includes an activity booklet, facilitator's guide and family booklet) is designed to help students, parents, and teachers learn about the importance of illness prevention and control. This unique program features age-appropriate in-class and at-home activities for topics including how bacteria and viruses are spread, hand hygiene, cough and sneeze etiquette, when and why to stay home when you are sick, immunization, and influenza pandemic preparedness. (Canadian Red Cross)
- GlitterBug Kit – Suggested for Kindergarten to Grade 8. This kit contains the GlitterBug disclosure kit with UV light, 'Be A Germ Stopper' teacher resource manual, activities and 'Wash Your Hands' book. Schools from the following School Boards: (SCDSB, SMCDSB, and TLDSB can loan a kit from their School Board. Other schools can contact the health unit to obtain.
The health unit offers a variety of services to support student health and infection prevention, including information related to common childhood illnesses, a list of reportable diseases and notification processes, and support with infection prevention and control in schools.
In addition to these services, the health unit also offers a variety of programs and services for elementary schools (PDF), covering a wide range of health-related topics.
- Lather, Rinse, Defeat Germs (VIDEO) – Suggested for Kindergarten to Grade 8. Teach your students about the importance of washing their hands by watching this video online. (4 minutes and 18 seconds; Toronto Public Health)
- Infection Prevention Resources – These resources are available for order and/or download through the health unit. Resources include: hand washing and hand sanitizing signs in English and French, hand hygiene videos and slide shows.
Visit the infectious diseases section of the health unit’s website for more information related to reportable diseases, infection prevention (including hand hygiene), beauty and body art (tattoos, piercings and spa services) and more.
Are you concerned about a student and/or would like additional information related to counselling or community supports? Find out where to get help.
Staff at the health unit are currently reviewing recommended lesson plans and curriculum supports for educators to align with Ontario’s 2015 Health and Physical Education Curriculum. Please use your discretion in determining which lesson plans and curriculum supports to use in your classroom. Updated and new resources will be posted online as available.