COVID-19 Stay at home school banner
print header

Families

Students must screen for symptoms of COVID-19, every day. Children must not go to school or child care if they are showing any symptoms of COVID-19.

  • Every day before attending school or child care all students MUST complete a COVID-19 Student Screening Tool. Guidance for what to do if your child does not pass the COVID-19 daily screening is included in this tool.
  • Elementary students: should be screened by their parent/caregiver daily.
  • Secondary students: can self-screen before going to school, but their parent/caregiver needs to check that the screen is done. 

If symptoms develop over the weekend, get your child tested before returning to school. If your child develops COVID-19 symptoms over the weekend that resolve before the next school day, they are still required to get tested and receive a negative test result from an assessment centre before attending school again. If they do not get tested, they must, or to isolate 10 days from the time their symptoms started. 

If your child has other symptoms of any other illness, they should stay home.
The provincial screening tool includes a recommendation for children to stay home if they are experiencing mild symptoms. 

Before the COVID-19 pandemic anyone who had any signs or symptoms of illness should not have attended school or child care. This remains the same during COVID-19. Anyone experiencing mild symptoms not included on the provincial screening tool (e.g., runny nose, sore throat) should not go to school.

COVID-19 Vaccine for Children 5 to 11 years

Getting your child vaccinated is the best way to protect them from COVID-19 and to prevent them from passing the virus to grandparents or others who can get seriously ill.Vaccines have helped us safely get back to the places and things we love such as going to school, participating in recreation and sports, and other activities outside of school.Vaccines make these places safer for everyone, including those who cannot get vaccinated, or who are at increased risk of getting very sick.

For more information visit our webpage.

We investigate 

If someone at a school or child care centre tested positive for COVID-19 (revised November 23, 2021) the health unit will investigate to confirm the test result, contact the person who tested positive to assess their illness, and then work with the school to determine who else might have been in close contact. This can take a few days to complete. 

The person who tested positive must stay home (self-isolate) right away and is not allowed to go to school. This helps to stop COVID-19 from spreading, while the health unit investigates.

We identify close contacts

The health unit will find out who else has been in close contact with the person with COVID-19. We do this by contacting the person who tested positive to find out where they may have gotten the infection, and who they may have been in contact with while contagious. We then contact the school for additional information.

We only notify close contacts and their family 

The health unit will provide the school with a letter to send home to only those people identified as all close contacts. This helps to protect the privacy of those affected. 

The letter will include information for those identified as close contacts and for all other household members.

If you do not receive a letter 

If you do NOT receive a letter from your child's school, written by the health unit, your child is NOT a close contact and they can continue to go to school if they pass the COVID-19 school and child care screening.

Other children in the house can continue to go to school if they pass the daily COVID-19 screening.

NOTE: The SMDHU works with school boards in Simcoe Muskoka to distribute letters directly to families using school messenger systems. Please be sure to check your messages often to ensure you receive important updates.

If your child has been identified as a close contact of someone confirmed to have COVID-19 you will get a letter from your child's school, written by the heath unit and it is important you follow the directions.

Watch the video - My Child has been Identified as a Close Contact: What does this mean? (auto translate option available under settings).

NOTE: We work with school boards in Simcoe Muskoka to distribute letters directly to families using school messenger systems. Please be sure to check your messages often to ensure you receive important updates.

My child is NOT fully vaccinated* 

If your child is identified as a close contact and they are not fully vaccinated they must:

  • Stay home (self-isolate) from school and cannot go to recreational activities or interact in person with others outside of your home.
  • Be tested at a local assessment centre (do not use an “at home” testing kit/rapid antigen test kit).
  • Not leave your property unless it is to go for testing or to seek medical attention.

NEW: See instructions for household members in the section below

My child is fully vaccinated*

  • If your child is identified as a close contact and they are fully vaccinated they can continue to go to school as long as they  pass the daily COVID-19 screening.
  • It is still recommended that they get tested at a local assessment centre (please do not use an at home testing kit/rapid antigen test kits).
  • They must also wear a mask and maintain physical distancing when outside of the home to reduce the risk of transmission to others if they become case.

Monitor for symptoms

  • All close contacts should monitor for symptoms of COVID-19.
  • If you are concerned about new or worsening symptoms of COVID-19, contact Telehealth Ontario at 1-866-7970000, or your health care provider. Call 911 or go to the nearest hospital immediately if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

 
*Fully vaccinated means that you have received:
  • A full series of a COVID-19 vaccine authorized by Health Canada, or any combination of such vaccines
  • One or two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine not authorized by Health Canada, followed by one dose of a COVID-19 mRNA vaccine authorized by Health Canada, or
  • Three doses of a COVID-19 vaccine not authorized by Health Canada, and
  • Your final dose of the COVID-19 vaccine was at least 14 days ago or prior to the exposure date.

NEW: COVID-19 Public Health Guidance: Self-isolation requirements for children 18 years and younger English / French

NEW: COVID-19 Public Health Guidance: Requirements for close contacts and households (graphic version)

When a person is identified as a close contact of someone with COVID-19 and is not fully vaccinated*:

  • Any other children (18 years and younger) who live in the same house and are not fully vaccinated must follow the same isolation recommendations, and not leave their property unless it is to go for testing or to seek necessary medical attention. This includes not going to school, child care, and other activities outside of the home.  They do not need to get tested if they do not have any symptoms.
  • Adults (19 years or older) who live in the same house and who are not fully vaccinated should stay home except for essential reasons, if they themselves are not close contacts and there are no COVID-19 cases in the household.  Essential reasons for leaving home include: going to the grocery store or pharmacy; accessing health care services; attending school and for essential in-person work.

This does not apply for those who are fully vaccinated* OR who have tested positive for COVID-19 in the last 90 days**. 

 

*Fully vaccinated means that you have received:

  • A full series of a COVID-19 vaccine authorized by Health Canada, or any combination of such vaccines
  • One or two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine not authorized by Health Canada, followed by one dose of a COVID-19 mRNA vaccine authorized by Health Canada, or
  • Three doses of a COVID-19 vaccine not authorized by Health Canada, and
  • Your final dose of the COVID-19 vaccine was at least 14 days ago or prior to the exposure date.
**Some household members of close contacts may be able to return to school if they have tested positive for COVID-19 in the last 90 days and have been cleared by public health

We closely monitor the number of cases in schools. While even one case of COVID-19 is concerning, we closely monitor the total number of cases and cohorts (classes, busses etc.) that are affected. We carefully monitor the spread of illness.

Watch the video - There is a Case/Outbreak at my School or Child Care (auto translate option available under settings)

An outbreak at school is declared when:

  • two or more COVID-19 cases in the school are confirmed by lab tests
  • the cases are students and/or staff (or other visitors) who have shared space or objects with each other
  • the cases happen within 14-days, where at least one case could have got COVID-19 in the school or child care setting (including transportation and before/after school care)

 

When investigating an outbreak, we will:

  • contact any students, staff or school visitors who test positive for COVID-19
  • determine if the person was at school during the time when the illness was most contagious
  • get information for who was close to the person who is sick, and contact them
  • review and assess students’ COVID-19 vaccination information together with class lists to support case, contact and outbreak management within schools. This is only applicable to students eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine (i.e., those born in 2009 or earlier). A letter sent to parents can be viewed here: COVID vaccination review letter EN, FR 

 

Based on the results of this investigation,  we may recommend:

  • sending home students or staff for 10 days following the last contact with the person who tested positive for COVID-19
  • sending home the entire class and/or school bus and/or, before/after program and/or other close contacts, as needed
  • increasing cleaning and limiting activities at the school
  • testing of contacts (staff and students), including those with no symptoms

 

We will determine who is at risk and ensure that staff, families and students, are provided with information to protect themselves and those close to them.

We will not give out personal information about any staff or student who is sick unless deemed necessary due to privacy laws.

There are many factors involved when considering closing a school. We continue to investigate and closely monitor those factors daily and  do not close schools unless it is absolutely necessary.

When making the decision to close the school, we look at:

  • number of people in the school who have COVID-19
  • number of people who are identified as close contacts (e.g. classes, bus cohorts)
  • total number of students and staff in the school
  • if and/or how quickly the virus is spreading at school
  • what measures are needed to slow the spread of illness
  • other factors such as testing rates and capacity to follow up with contacts.

We only close schools when we feel it is necessary to reduce risk to staff and students. 

If a school is closed, we will work with the school board and/or school to notify families. We will also continue to monitor the outbreak and will re-open the school as soon as it is safe to do so.  


Prevent COVID-19 at School

The Ministry of Education released COVID-19 health, safety and operational guidance for schools (2021-2022). The advice below is based on guidance and direction from the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Health, and additional recommendations from our health unit:

Students who have travelled outside of Canada:

The COVID-19 school and childcare screening asks about travel outside of Canada in the last 14 days.

All students MUST complete a COVID-19 school and child care screening tool before going to school each day. Guidance for what to do if your child does not pass the COVID-19 daily screening is included in this tool.

Students who have travelled outside of Canada must self-isolate for 14 days if they do not qualify for a federal quarantine travel exemption. Your child’s ability to return to school after travel outside of Canada will depend on whether or not they are fully vaccinated*.

  • If they are fully vaccinated they may be exempt from federal quarantine. 
  • If they are not fully vaccinated, they are not to attend school/childcare for 14 days, even if they travelled with a vaccinated companion.

 

Visit Health Canada’s website for more information about COVID-19 Travel: Checklists for requirements and exemptions and COVID-19: For unvaccinated children under 12 without symptoms and travelling with fully vaccinated parents or guardians.

Students who live with someone who has travelled outside of Canada:

Review the federal guidance about quarantining with others in the same household.

Students who have not travelled outside of Canada, however live with someone who is under travel quarantine may need to isolate as well. If the person who is under travel quarantine is unable to avoid contact with household members who did not travel, the child’s ability to attend school will depend on whether or not they are fully vaccinated.

  • If they are fully vaccinated, they can attend school/childcare.
  • If they are not fully vaccinated, they are not to attend school/childcare for the same isolation period as the household member who travelled.

Students in Grades 1 to 12 must wear masks:

  • in schools, including in hallways and during classes
  • on school transportation

We continue to recommend that school boards and private schools mandate students in kindergarten (JK and SK) to wear masks while attending school in-person during the 2021-2022 school year. Please refer to your school board policy.

Parents and guardians should send two or three masks to school each day so the student can change them at each break and if they become dirty or wet.

DO’s 

  • Wear a non-medical 2-layer or 3-layer mask to protect yourself and others.
  • Ensure the mask is clean, dry and free of holes, rips or tears. 
  • Wash hands or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer before and after touching the mask. 
  • Use the ear loops or ties to put on and remove the mask. 
  • Ensure the nose, mouth and chin are fully covered with no gaps.
  • The mask should be able to block light when held up to a bright light source.
  • Replace the mask whenever it becomes damp or dirty. 
  • Store re-usable masks in a clean paper bag until you wear it again. 
  • Discard masks that cannot be washed in a lined garbage bin after use.

DO NOT'S

  • Do not wear masks with exhalation valves or vents.
  • Do not wear mask made of thin fabric or with openings such as lace, mesh or crochet.
  • Do not wear bandanas, scarves, neck warmers or neck gaiters to school. These cannot be put on and taken off easily following proper masking technique and are less effective at filtering respiratory droplets compared to a cloth mask. 
  • Don’t wear a loose mask. 
  • Don’t touch the mask while wearing it. 
  • Don’t remove the masks to talk to someone. 
  • Don’t hang the mask from your ears or neck (lanyards). The use of lanyards is not recommended as the masks inside surface may be exposed to contaminated respiratory droplets as the mask hangs. 
  • Don’t share masks. 
  • Don’t leave used masks within the reach of others. 
  • Don’t reuse masks that are damp, dirty or damaged.

 

Wearing a mask is not required at school, while:

  • eating snacks or lunch (students can remove masks once seated and remain seated while their mask is removed); and
  • participating in physical activity in health and physical education class (the Ministry of Education has instructed schools to hold these classes outdoors if possible).

 

Screen your child for COVID-19 using the school and child care screening. The results will tell you: 

  • if they should go to school or child care, 
  • what to do next (stay home, go for testing or talk with doctor), 
  • when they can return to school or child care, 
  • what everyone in your household (depending on vaccination status) should do.

If a child becomes sick while at school (revised November 23, 2021), the school will follow guidelines to ensure that the child is separated and cared for while waiting for their parent/guardian to pick them up. They must stay home and seek testing at a local assessment centre (do not use an at home testing/rapid antigen test kit), and/or seek medical attention if required.

Caring for a sick child

For tips about how to care for a sick child who needs to stay at home see this fact sheet.
Most children with COVID-19 will have mild symptoms and can recover at home with a caregiver.

If your child has any of the following symptoms call 911: 

  • having difficulty breathing (struggling for each breath, can only speak in single words). 
  • confused or very sleepy. 
  • fainting or losing consciousness. 
  • complaining of chest pain or very bad stomach pain.

Page last updated: November 26, 2021

Did you find what you were looking for today?
What did you like about this page?
How can we improve this page?
Page
Feedback

If you have any questions or concerns that require a response, please contact Health Connection directly.

Thanks for your feedback.
Failed to submit comment. Please try submitting again or contact us at the Health Unit.
Comment already submitted ...