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School Administrators and Educators

The information on this page is meant to provide school administrators and educators in Simcoe Muskoka with information and resources to help keep your school community safe and healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This information is based on the direction of both the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Education, and additional recommendations from our health unit. It will be continually updated to reflect changes in provincial direction and our local context. We encourage you to visit this page often to keep yourself informed.

We all have a role to play in reducing the spread of COVID-19 in schools.

The resources linked below are intended to provide school administrators, employees and other members of the school community with current recommendations for managing COVID-19 in schools.

Government of Ontario:

Francais:

 

Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit:

The health unit works closely with local school boards and schools to provide additional recommendations and/or direction, as needed. Every additional layer of protection that is put in place helps to reduce the risk of COVID-19.

The health, safety, and well-being of students, school employees, and their families is a critical priority for public health.

When there is COVID-19 in the community, there is a risk of COVID-19 in schools; however, schools have many proctective measures in place to help reduce the risk to students, employees, and their families. Some of these prevention measures in schools include:

  • Completing the COVID -19 school and child care screening every day before school/work.
  • Clear processes for students or employees who develop symptoms at school.
  • Rapid Antigen Tests (RAT) available for symptomatic school employees and students (based on provincial supply).
  • Requirements for students to wear a mask when indoors, unless medically exempt (including high-quality 3-ply masks available to students who need them).
  • Proper use of personal protective equipment (including a well fitted medical mask or N95, and eye protection) for school employees.
  • Vaccines available for ages 5 years of age and older, booster doses available to all for those 18 years of age and older.
  • Enhanced measures to supplement existing COVID-19: Health, safety and operational guidance for schools (2021-2022). 

Each added layer of protection helps to reduce the risk of getting COVID-19.

  • All students, school employees and visitors must complete the daily COVID-19 school and child care screening before coming to school each day.
  • The COVID-19 school and child care screening should be used to help make decisions about whether a student, school employee or visitor should attend school (regardless of when/where symptoms developed or an exposure occurred).
  • Remind parents/guardians to complete this with their children, and to notify the school if their child does not pass the daily screening.

If a student, school employee or visitor does not pass daily screening: 

  • They must stay home and follow the instructions listed in the screening tool.  
  • They should advise the school and/or child care of absence due to illness as per school board policy. 

 

REMINDER: If a student/school employee has had symptoms in the past and now has new or worsening symptoms, these symptoms should be included in screening response. If a student/school employee develops COVID-19 symptoms over the weekend that resolve prior to a school day, they are still required isolate, as per the instructions in the screening tool, before returning to school.

If a student, school employee, or visitor does not pass the Ontario COVID-19 school and child care screening, they must follow the instructions listed in the screening tool regarding isolation and return to school.

Refer to this COVID-19 Public Health Guidance: Return to School for Students, Employees & Visitors to help determine screening recommendations and timelines for return to school.

Medical documentation is not required to return to school.

To provide an additional layer of protection for COVID-19, rapid antigen tests will be made available to students and school employees (based on provincial testing supply).

When to use the take-home rapid antigen test(s):

Students and school employees regardless of vaccination status, can use the rapid antigen test(s) if they have symptoms of COVID-19 (as per the Ontario COVID-19 school and child care screening). Rapid antigen tests can help find out the likelihood that their symptoms are related to COVID-19.

How to use the rapid antigen test:

Instructions are provided with the rapid antigen tests. 

Students should test at home and with the help of a parent or caregiver, if needed.

Test Results:

Results of rapid antigen tests are available within 15 minutes.

If the test is positive: A positive result on a rapid antigen test is a good indication that the person has COVID-19. The result does not need to be confirmed by a PCR test.

If a student or school employee tests positive for COVID-19, they must stay home and isolate. The amount of time will depend on their age and whether they are fully vaccinated:

  • Fully vaccinated or aged 11 or younger:must stay home (isolate) for 5 days from the day symptoms started. After 5 days, they can return to school when symptoms have been improving for at least 24 hours.
  • Not fully vaccinated and aged 12 or older, OR immunocompromised (regardless of age or vaccination status): must stay home (isolate) for 10 days from the time their symptoms started. 

There is no need to do another rapid antigen test if your first test was positive. A negative test is not required to return to school or work after your isolation period is complete.

All other household members (regardless of vaccination status) must also stay home and isolate for the same amount of time.

 

If the test is negative:

  • A negative result on one rapid antigen test does not rule out COVID-19. If a student or school employee tests negative on one rapid antigen test but has symptoms of COVID-19 or lives in the same house as someone with symptoms, they must continue to stay home and isolate as per the time frame listed above.
  • If two rapid antigen tests (RATs) collected 24-48 hours apart are both negative, students and/or school employees can return to school when their symptoms have been improving for at least 24 hours (48 hours for nausea, vomiting and/or diarrhea).

 

How to dispose of rapid antigen tests:

Put COVID-19 home testing devices into the garbage. This includes small plastic components. You can recycle cardboard and paper packaging.

Can students and/or school employees get a PCR Test?

Most members of the general public, including school aged children and school employees, are no longer eligible for publicly funded PCR testing. Eligibility for PCR testing has changed to ensure that PCR tests are available for people most at risk for severe COVID-19 illness.

A positive result on a rapid antigen test is a good indication that the person has COVID-19. The result does not need to be confirmed by a PCR test.

 

Additional information about how to use rapid antigen screening kits can be found on our families page

Follow this guidance when a student or employee develops symptoms of COVID-19 at school.

Symptomatic students - should be separated from others, in a separate room if possible, until they can go home.

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

Note: Household members of the symptomatic person are recommended but not required to leave at the same time as the symptomatic person, unless they are also symptomatic. They can complete their day then will need to isolate, as per the Ontario COVID-19 school and child care screening tool.

At School:

As per the Ontario COVID-19: Interim Guidance for Schools and Child Care: Omicron Surge:

  • If the only exposure occurred at school then the school employee/student is not considered a close contact and can continue to attend school.
  • Public health units will no longer be dismissing cohorts.
  • Any dismissals or closures of a school or child care will be contingent on operational requirements determined by the school board, school and/or child care operator.

Given the widespread transmission and inability to test all symptomatic individuals, the health unit and/or schools will not be routinely notifying students in classes with a positive case, or if a child/student or employee is absent due to symptoms associated with COVID-19.

 

Outside of School:

If a student, school employee, or essential visitor is a close contact of someone outside of school, the steps they need to take will depend on whether they:

 


The SMDHU does not recommend that schools share information with employees and families about:

  • Symptomatic individuals including those that did not pass the daily self-screening or who become sick while at school.
  • A student or employee who self-reports that they have been in close contact with someone confirmed to have COVID-19. 
  • A student or employee who has been tested for COVID-19 and whose test results are pending. 
  • A student or employee who self-reports that they have tested positive or been diagnosed with COVID-19.
We will be continuously updating information and resources on this webpage. We are also available for consultation and support as new situations emerge, and will provide clarification or additional information as needed in order to support the safest possible learning environment in Simcoe Muskoka.

FAQs

 

Cleaning and disinfecting

 

 Hand Hygiene

 

Masks 


Testing and self-isolation


 Website Links:

 

 Other

  

Page last updated: January 18, 2022

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