Every student must complete a daily self-screening before going to school or childcare.
If a student has even ONE new or worsening symptoms, the student must stay home, self-isolate and get tested or contact a health care provider.
Note: If the student has been in close contact with a person who has COVID-19, the student will need to self-isolate for 14 days, even if they don’t have symptoms. If the student has travelled outside of Canada, they must self-isolate for 14 days.
The Ministry of Health has an online screening tool specific for students and school personnel. The purpose of this screening tool is to help parents and guardians make decisions about whether or not their child/children can attend school. This tool should be completed daily before attending school. Using this tool is mandatory for high school students, as well as school staff and essential visitors. It is recommended that you contact a healthcare provider if you have more questions about your child/children’s health. This tool is subject to change as further guidance from the Ministry of Health becomes available. You can also access a printable version for students and children attending school or child care settings, or the printable tool for school staff and essential visitors.
Let your child know that if they start to feel sick at school, they should tell a teacher or adult right away. They will be taken to a quiet room away from others, and you or an emergency contact person will be called to pick them up. Please make sure to update these contacts with the school, if needed.
Handwashing, when done correctly, is the single most effective way to prevent the spread of communicable diseases.
Follow these five simple steps to keeping hands clean:
Hand sanitizers are useful in times where you or your child may not have access to running water and soap.
For more information, visit the Public Health Ontario hand hygiene factsheet.
Physical distancing is one of the most effective ways of reducing the spread of COVID-19. While at school, make sure to keep a distance of 2 metres (6 feet) away from others as much as possible when walking in the hallways and staircases or when talking with classmates.
Check out stay two metres away to help your children learn about physical distancing.
For more information, visit the Public Health Ontario physical distancing factsheet and Physical Distancing: How to Slow the Spread of COVID-19.
Just like the flu, COVID-19 can spread through droplets (small drops of liquid) when a person who has the virus coughs or sneezes. When in close contact with an individual who coughs or sneezes, you may breathe in their respiratory droplets and become infected with COVID-19.
When you cough or sneeze on your hands, your hands carry and spread these germs and you may contaminate surfaces. When you touch an object such as a door handle, telephone or computer keyboard with unclean hands, you are spreading germs. The next person who touches these objects may pick up germs and get sick if they do not clean their hands before touching their eyes, nose or mouth.
Respiratory hygiene or etiquette involves measures that minimize the spread of respiratory germs.
When coughing or sneezing:
Wearing a mask helps to trap respiratory droplets which can spread COVID-19 and protects people who are around you. Your mask must be secure and have a snug fit around your nose, mouth and chin.
Public health does not recommend ‘neck gaiters’, scarves, or balaclavas as an equivalent to, or substitute for a face mask in the school setting. The Porcupine Health Unit supports the recommendations for the use of masks in schools provided by the Ministry of Education. The Guide to Reopening Ontario Schools indicates that students are to wear a cloth mask as necessary. Please refer to your school board and school specific policies for further requirements.
There are times throughout the school day, like lunchtime, when students will be removing their masks. It is important for parents and students to know how they can properly store their reusable masks while they are not in use.
Reusable cloth masks should be stored in a labelled, clean and closable container to prevent contamination when not in use.
Lanyards are NOT recommended. Reusable masks should NOT be stored in pockets, lunch boxes or lay around on desks.
Help your child learn how to store their reusable mask safely by following these steps together:
Reusable cloth masks should be washed at least once per day in hot, soapy water, be completely dry before using it again, and maintain shape after washing and drying.
When a reusable mask becomes dirty, crumpled or wet, students should transport it home to launder.
How to was reusable cloth masks:
If a washing machine is not available, hand-wash using soap and warm/hot water and allow to dry completely before wearing it again.
To help keep up with laundry, consider having multiple masks for your child so when one gets dirty, there is a clean spare ready to go.
Should children and teachers wear a mask in outdoor settings at school?
Yes. Children, teachers and child care staff should wear a mask in outdoor settings whenever a physical distance of two or more metres cannot be maintained.
Current evidence tells us that the risk of transmission of the COVID-19 virus in outdoor settings is much lower than in indoor settings. Physical distancing is easier to maintain and there is much greater air circulation when outdoors. This reduced risk is because people are less likely to be exposed to infectious respiratory droplets (from coughing, sneezing, shouting, singing, talking, breathing).
Although outdoor settings may reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, the risk is not eliminated. Masks help to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission in outdoor settings where physical distancing may be difficult to maintain (such as at a bus stop).
Talk to your kids about the infection control measures that will be put in place at school this year in shared spaces such as washrooms and cafeterias/lunchrooms.
Vaccinating your children is the best way to keep them safe from many serious and potentially deadly diseases. You can help protect your children by getting them vaccinated on time and keeping their shots up-to-date.
Flu shots are also available by appointment.
For information about the COVID-19 vaccinations, visit our COVID-19 vaccine webpage.
School Mental Health Ontario has resources for parents, students and educators to support mental health and well-being.
Please view this list of COVID-19 Mental Health Resources for additional information.
Students may leave school property for nutritional breaks and/or lunch hour, unless the school or school board provides other direction.
If a student is permitted to leave the school property for nutritional breaks/lunch, they are reminded to:
As per the current emergency order, students may not go to a friend's house for lunch/nutritional breaks or other activities. Only immediate household members are allowed.
Although it may feel like we don’t have much control over this school year, we can make sure we send our kids to school with healthy foods to give them the energy and nutrients they need to learn and play. Follow these tips below to keep children safe and nourished during COVID-19.
Pack healthy lunches that do not require reheating and include a reusable water bottle.
Include your children in making lunches. This will encourage them to enjoy the healthy choices you pack and improve their food skills.
Looking for inspiration when it comes to school lunches? Find recipes here.
Try to pack waste free lunches as much as possible using items such as: reusable lunch bag or box, thermoses, stainless steel water bottles, reusable plastic containers, cloth napkins, and reusable utensils.
For more information, read our document on School Meal and Snack Programs during COVID-19.
Active forms of travel (walking and biking) and private transportation by parents and caregivers, are encouraged where possible, to ease pressure on school bus demands. Walking and rolling to school can give your child many benefits, such as: increased readiness to learn, reduced stress, and increased levels of happiness. If you decide to drive your child to school, consider a safe drop-off location away from the school and let your child walk the last five minutes, or 1-2 blocks. This will allow them to enjoy the benefits of physical activity and help you create a safer school zone. Walking and rolling the whole way, or part of the way, will reduce traffic around the school and provide your child with the opportunity to temporarily remove their mask. For more information, visit Ontario active school travel.
For information on school bus policies, visit your school board's website.