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Going to school during COVID-19

As the virus continues to spread throughout our community it is strongly recommended that you wear a well-fitted three-layer mask or use a medical mask in all public indoor settings, including schools, to protect yourself and others from COVID-19. We continue to work closely with school boards and schools in Simcoe Muskoka to promote a safe and healthy school environment and to protect the broader community.

Continue to use, and to support your child to use, the following personal protective measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19:

  • Complete the COVID-19 School and Child Care screening every day. The results are specific to your situation with information about next steps, return to school and siblings or other people you live with
  • Stay home if you are unwell, and keep children home when they are sick.
  • Wear a mask in indoor spaces, crowded places and if you will be in close contact with others you don’t live with. Be respectful of others and their decisions.
  • Get vaccinated for COVID-19. It can help lower the risk of serious illness if you or your child get COVID-19.
  • Maintain physical distance, when possible and limit your number of close contacts.
  • Practice good hand hygiene.
  • Use a rapid antigen test (if available) when symptoms develop.

If you choose to attend a school gathering or event, you have the option of continuing to layer personal protective measures, even when they are no longer required.

Gathering in smaller groups of people while wearing a face mask, particularly when indoors, continues to be the safest way to prevent the spread of COVID-19. In addition, we strongly recommend staying up to date with your COVID-19 vaccination by receiving all doses and boosters you are eligible for.

When attending a graduation or other event:

  • Wash your hands often.
  • Cover any cough or sneeze.
  • Wear a face mask when indoors if physical distancing is not possible.
  • Do not attend if you have symptoms, even if they are mild.
  • Do not attend if you are self- isolating.
  • If you are immunocompromised or at higher risk of severe disease and/or exposure to COVID-19, consider joining virtually or not attending the event.

It is strongly recommended that you continue to wear a well-fitted three-layer mask or use a medical mask (or respirator) in all public indoor settings, including schools.

  • If you have completed a five day isolation period for any reason, continue wearing a mask from day six to day 10.
  • You are required to wear a mask in all public settings for 10 days from your last exposure, if you were identified as a close contact and were not required to isolate.
  • Upon return from international travel, unvaccinated children aged five to 11 are still required to wear a mask in all public settings for their first 14 days in Canada, this includes schools and day camps. For information on the federal requirements after international travel for children and youth click here.

We encourage school boards and schools to promote respectful, welcoming and inclusive practices and communications related to masking within their school communities.

Schools should follow established processes to ensure that the ill child is separated and cared for while waiting for their parent/guardian to pick them up.

Symptomatic employee/visitors should self-isolate (leave the school, go home) immediately and follow the advice listed in the screening tool.

Before the person can return to school, they will need to pass the Ontario COVID-19 school and child care screening tool.

To support ongoing monitoring and transparency related to COVID-19 impacts on schools, the Ministry of Education is requiring schools to monitor absenteeism rates and report on student and staff absences and school closures daily through the absence reporting tool (ART).

If a school’s absenteeism rate has reached a level of 30% or more above baseline or rapidly risen compared to the day before:

  • School principals should notify their school board COVID Lead or designate.
  • It must be reported to the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit.
  • After further assessment, a letter may be provided by the health unit for distribution to families, staff and students. In these situations, school boards and/or schools will be asked to distribute the letter to the school community.
The health unit will continue to provide ongoing consultation and support to school boards and schools, as needed.


Cleaning and disinfecting

  • Environmental Cleaning in non-health care settings – PHO fact sheet


Hand hygiene


Respiratory etiquette

How to Cover Your Coughs and Sneezes (Respiratory Etiquette) Video – HKPR District Health Unit




Mental health and coping


Page last updated: June 10, 2021

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