COVID-19 Info: Schools

Last updated: January 17, 2022

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

Public and private schools must implement health and safety measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the school setting.  For more information, see the Ministry of Education's COVID-19: Health, safety, and operational guidance for schools (2021-2022) webpage. Or, contact your child's school board or school administrator:

Huron Perth Public Health has provided Recommendations to Enhance the COVID-19: Health, Safety and Operational Guidance for Schools (2021-22) [PDF], which are to be used in conjunction with the Ministry of Education's operational guidance. It does not replace the advice, guidelines, recommendations, directives, or other direction of provincial Ministries; however, the recommendations are strongly encouraged to enhance the health and safety of staff and students in Huron and Perth schools.

Screening and staying home if ill

All students and school staff are required to screen for COVID-19 every day before leaving for 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.

Again, as a general rule, 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 our COVID-19 Self-Isolation page for information on if you have experienced a school exposure.

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 have put measures in place to reduce the spread of COVID-19 at school. These measures include: cohorting (keeping groups together), increased hand washing and hand hygiene practices, physical distancing, enhanced cleaning and disinfection, the use of personal protective equipment for staff,  masks or face coverings for students, and improved ventilation. See below for more information on masks.

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.

School bus transportation

COVID-19 and School Bus Transportation: Information for Bus Operators and Drivers [PDF] | HPPH, September 7, 2021

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 cases in schools.

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?
  • Students in grades Kindergarten to 12 are required to wear a face mask indoors at school, outdoors when physical distancing cannot be maintained, and on school transportation.
  • Students may wear their own non-medical masks, and non-medical masks will also be made available for students.
  • We encourage families to work with their children to ensure they are able to put on and remove their masks safely on their own.
  • Avoid the use of any mask lanyards or mask clips that could become a strangulation hazard.
  • Masks should be stored in something breathable like a paper bag, fabric bag or envelope that does not retain moisture, if the mask will be worn again.
  • Pack several masks each day and send your child to school with two bags for masks, one labelled "clean" and one "dirty."
  • Instruct your child to put their mask in the "dirty" bag if it gets wet or soiled, and to use a new, clean mask.
  • Wash the masks at the end of each day before reuse.
  • All staff in schools must wear masks. School staff who are regularly in close contact with students will wear masks and eye protection.

Mask Exemptions 

Please talk to your healthcare provider and school if you have questions about mask exemptions.

Learn more about masks and face coverings.

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

If you are concerned about whether the proper public health precautions are being taken in your child’s class, please reach out to your child’s teacher or school principal with your concerns.

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

I heard someone in my child’s class has COVID-19. Should I keep my child home?

See our COVID-19 Self-Isolation webpage for more information.

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.