COVID-19 Info: Schools

Last updated: May 10, 2022

Huron Perth Public Health rescinded its Letter of Instruction to private schools on March 22, 2022. Private schools are to follow the direction of the Ministry of Education.

Huron Perth Public Health (HPPH) continues to support local school administrators with managing COVID-19 and safely operating schools during the pandemic. This includes working with our school boards and private schools.

While most health and safety measures were lifted in schools on March 21, 2022, some measures remain in place.  For more information, see the Ministry of Education's COVID-19: Keeping schools safe webpage. Or, contact your child's school board or school administrator:

Screening and staying home if ill

Daily on-site confirmation of screening for all students and staff is no longer required. Staff and students should continue to self-screen for COVID-19 every day before attending school using the COVID-19 school and child care screening tool.

  • If the screening says that your child must not go to school, please read the details and follow the direction provided on the screening for your child and your household.

Any sick individual with any symptoms of illness, including those with symptoms not on the screening tool, should stay home and seek assessment from their regular health care provider, as appropriate. Staying home when ill will help to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and other viruses in the school setting.

School exposures to COVID-19

Please see What to do if you've been exposed to COVID-19 for information if you have experienced a school exposure. Follow the steps outlined to take care of yourself and protect others.

Role of parents and caregivers

Parents and caregivers should be aware of the possible symptoms of COVID-19 and must screen their children before going to school each day – to protect themselves, other children, and staff. Use the provincial COVID-19 School Screening and follow the instructions. 

Role of schools

School boards and schools continue to have public health and safety measures in place to reduce the spread of COVID-19 at school. The measures that remain include:

  • Rapid test kit availability
  • Ventilation improvements
  • Daily self-screening
  • Continued access to free PPE for students and staff
  • Hand washing and hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette
  • Enhanced cleaning and disinfection
  • Absence reporting (schools will continue to be expected to report absenteeism rates to HPPH greater than 30%)

For more information on health and safety measures in schools see COVID-19: keeping schools safe.

Updated Approach to Monitoring and Reporting

Schools will no longer be routinely notifying students and families of a positive case or a symptomatic student or staff. To support ongoing monitoring and transparency related to COVID-19 impacts on schools, the Ministry of Education requires schools to monitor and report absenteeism. If the absenteeism rate reaches a certain level (e.g. 30% or more), the school principal will notify HPPH. HPPH will work with the school to inform families and provide information on public health measures (e.g. monitoring for symptoms). HPPH will also support the school with any necessary steps to improve health and safety at the school.

Role of Huron Perth Public Health

Because the Omicron variant spreads so fast, case and contact management, including contact tracing, are not as effective in stopping the spread of COVID-19 as it once was. Provincial guidance for testing, and case and contact management has shifted to focus on areas where these interventions will work best, such as highest risk settings. Public Health will not be following up with everyone who tests positive for COVID-19.

HPPH will no longer be dismissing cohorts for public health reasons. However, if the school or school board are experiencing operational challenges (e.g. staffing shortage), they may decide to dismiss or temporarily close a school.

For more information:

To view provincial information regarding COVID-19 in schools, visit COVID-19: school closures and absenteeism.

FAQs

Do I need a note from a doctor before my child goes back to school/child care or a copy of a negative test result? 
No, you do not need a note from your doctor or proof of a negative test before your child returns to school/childcare. If your child is isolating, they may not return to school until their isolation period ends.

I need more information to feel confident in my assessment, what do I do?

If you need additional information about COVID-19 or have a question specific to your child and their health, please contact your health care provider.
Does my child need to wear a mask?

As of March 21, 2022 masks are no longer universally required for students in schools, or on student transportation. HPPH has removed the requirement for masks for Kindergarten students as well.

There will still be instances where students are required to wear masks for a limited amount of time during the school day including:

  • Upon return from international travel (if unvaccinated or partially vaccinated) for 14 days
    • This includes unvaccinated children under 12 years of age who are exempt from quarantine due to accompanying a fully vaccinated adult
  • When exposed to a case of COVID-19 in the community or their household
    • Wear a mask, avoid activities where mask removal is necessary (such as dining out, high contact sports)
  • When taking public transportation (i.e., a city bus) to and from school

Please remember that there will be students and staff that may choose to continue to wear masks at times, or consistently, for the remainder of the school year. We encourage and remind everyone to remain kind, considerate, and respectful toward everyone who wears a mask and everyone who does not.

I’m concerned that kids in my child’s classroom aren’t wearing masks or staying 2 metres apart, who should I call?

Cohorting and distancing are no longer required in schools. Elementary students may gather across cohorts, classes and grades, both indoors and outdoors, and during lunch and recess. Shared spaces, such as libraries, tech labs, and music rooms can be fully utilized without distancing. 

Limitations on in-person gatherings and assemblies has also been removed.

To find out what measures school boards and school must have in place, see COVID-19: Health, safety and operational guidance for schools.

What do I do if my child tests positive for COVID-19?

For information on isolation and what to do if you test positive for COVID-19 visit: ontario.ca/exposed or call the Provincial Testing and Isolation line at 1-888-777-0730 (available Monday to Sunday from 8am-6pm). 

I'm concerned my child has been exposed to someone with COVID-19 in the community. Are they required to stay home from school?

The Ministry of Health has updated what people must do if they are exposed to a case of COVID-19 in the community:

  • If you've been exposed to someone from another household with symptoms of COVID-19 or a positive test result, you are required to:
    • Self-monitor for symptoms for 10 days after your last exposure
    • Wear a mask, avoid activities where mask removal is necessary (such as dining out, high contact sports) and follow all other public health measures if leaving home
    • Do not visit any highest-risk settings (such as long-term care or retirement homes) or people who may be at higher risk of illness (such as seniors) for 10 days after your last exposure

Someone in our household has COVID-19, should my child stay home from school?

If you live with someone who has symptoms, or has tested positive for COVID-19, you do not need to isolate if one of the following applies to you:

  • You have previously tested positive in the last 90 days and do not have symptoms
  • You are over 18 years old and have received a COVID-19 booster dose
  • You are under 18 years old and are fully vaccinated

Instead, for 10 days after exposure:

  • Self-monitor for symptoms
  • Wear a mask and avoid activities where mask removal would be necessary
  • Do not visit anyone who is at higher risk of illness, such as seniors, or any highest risk settings (unless you previously tested positive in the past 90 days)

If you do not meet any of the criteria above, you must isolate while the person with symptoms/positive test result isolates (or for 10 days if you are immunocompromised).

Please visit www.ontario.ca/exposed for more information on these new isolation guidelines or call the Provincial Testing and Isolation line at 1-888-777-0730 (available Monday to Sunday from 8am-6pm). .

Supporting mental health for students, parents and educators

Please visit COVID-19 and Mental Health for resources and information to support students, parents and educators with their mental health during this time.