School COVID-19 Resources for Parents

Promotion for School Reopening information for parents

School COVID-19 planning

 Information  was developed by Hamilton Public Health Services to aid schools in planning and managing COVID-19 within schools. Schools have the responsibility to ensure that staff and student health, safety and well-being are protected and measures to prevent the transmission of COVID-19.

Learn more about school COVID-19 plans

The decision to send your child to school in person is a personal choice, where the risks and benefits should be considered along with your family’s situation. Considerations can include children’s health conditions and close contacts of your child or other family members who may be at higher risk for serious outcomes with COVID-19 infection.  

Maintaining public health measures such as staying home when you are sick, physical distancing, hand washing and mask wearing will be very important to reduce the likelihood of infection, contain outbreaks and protect those who are most vulnerable. Everyone has a part to play to help reduce the spread of COVID-19, including parents, school boards, and public health.

Screening your child

Children with COVID-19 symptoms

COVID-19 cases & outbreaks in schools

Learn about coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in Ontario schools and what happens if an outbreak is confirmed at your school

Public health measures

To protect ourselves and others from spreading COVID-19, there are some important things we can do:

Hand hygiene is one of the most effective ways to stop the spread of germs. Children need to be taught when and how to wash their hands properly. It is important to wash hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

Resources to help teach children & youth about handwashing:

Wearing a face covering or mask protects others, and their mask protects you. Children/youth are encouraged to practice wearing masks.

Read about:

Physical distancing helps limit the spread of infection when used with the other public health measures such as hand washing, wearing a mask and staying home when sick.

Helping kids understand physical distancing

Frequently Asked Questions


Testing

Due to increased numbers of people getting tested, test results are taking longer to process. Please be patient. Test results may take  up to 7 days.

If your child has been identified as needing a test and everyone else in the family is well, no testing of other family members is needed. If your child tests positive for COVID-19, Hamilton Public Health Services will contact you/your child and make a plan for additional testing of all close contacts.

No, you do not need a note from your doctor or proof of a negative test before your child returns to school/ childcare. Some schools require an attestation be completed prior to your child’s return, please follow up with your school.

Child with symptoms


If you notice that your child has new or worsening symptoms, what you do depends on the symptom and how usual they are for your child.

If your child has new or worsening:

  • Fever/chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Decreased or loss of smell or taste

Your child should isolate immediately and you should contact your child’s health provider for further advice or assessment. The health care provider can help you determine whether the symptoms are related to another non-COVID-19 condition, or if they should get tested for COVID-19.

If your child has ONE new or worsening symptom (that is not related to a known cause or condition) that include:

  • Sore throat
  • Stuffy nose/runny nose
  • Headache
  • Nausea/vomiting/diarrhea
  • Fatigue/lethargy/muscle aches/malaise

Your child should stay home for 24 hours to be monitored to see whether the symptoms get better or worse. If they start to feel better and symptoms are improving, they can return to school/child care when well enough to do so and no COVID-19 testing is needed.

If the symptoms get worse, you should contact their health care provider for further advice or assessment. The health care provider can help you determine whether the symptoms are related to another non-COVID-19 condition, or if they should get tested for COVID-19.

If your child has TWO or MORE new or worsening symptoms (that are not related to a known cause or condition) that include:

  • Sore throat
  • Stuffy nose/runny nose
  • Headache
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue/lethargy/muscle aches or malaise

Your child should isolate immediately and you should contact your child’s health provider for further advice or assessment. The health care provider can help you determine whether the symptoms are related to another non-COVID-19 condition, or if they should get tested for COVID-19.


If you notice that your child has new or worsening symptoms, what you do depends on the symptom and how usual they are for your child.

If your child has new or worsening:

  • Fever/chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Decreased or loss of smell or taste

Your child should isolate immediately and you should contact your child’s health provider for further advice or assessment. The health care provider can help you determine whether the symptoms are related to another non-COVID-19 condition, or if they should get tested for COVID-19.

If your child has ONE new or worsening symptom (that is not related to a known cause or condition) that include:

  • Sore throat
  • Stuffy nose/runny nose
  • Headache
  • Nausea/vomiting/diarrhea
  • Fatigue/lethargy/muscle aches/malaise

Your child should stay home for 24 hours to be monitored to see whether the symptoms get better or worse. If they start to feel better and symptoms are improving, they can return to school/child care when well enough to do so and no COVID-19 testing is needed.

If the symptoms get worse, you should contact their health care provider for further advice or assessment. The health care provider can help you determine whether the symptoms are related to another non-COVID-19 condition, or if they should get tested for COVID-19.

If your child has TWO or MORE new or worsening symptoms (that are not related to a known cause or condition) that include:

  • Sore throat
  • Stuffy nose/runny nose
  • Headache
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue/lethargy/muscle aches or malaise

Your child should isolate immediately and you should contact your child’s health provider for further advice or assessment. The health care provider can help you determine whether the symptoms are related to another non-COVID-19 condition, or if they should get tested for COVID-19.


If you notice that your child has new or worsening symptoms, what you do depends on the symptom and how usual they are for your child.

If your child has new or worsening:

  • Fever/chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Decreased or loss of smell or taste

Your child should isolate immediately and you should contact your child’s health provider for further advice or assessment. The health care provider can help you determine whether the symptoms are related to another non-COVID-19 condition, or if they should get tested for COVID-19.

If your child has ONE new or worsening symptom (that is not related to a known cause or condition) that include:

  • Sore throat
  • Stuffy nose/runny nose
  • Headache
  • Nausea/vomiting/diarrhea
  • Fatigue/lethargy/muscle aches/malaise

Your child should stay home for 24 hours to be monitored to see whether the symptoms get better or worse. If they start to feel better and symptoms are improving, they can return to school/child care when well enough to do so and no COVID-19 testing is needed.

If the symptoms get worse, you should contact their health care provider for further advice or assessment. The health care provider can help you determine whether the symptoms are related to another non-COVID-19 condition, or if they should get tested for COVID-19.

If your child has TWO or MORE new or worsening symptoms (that are not related to a known cause or condition) that include:

  • Sore throat
  • Stuffy nose/runny nose
  • Headache
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue/lethargy/muscle aches or malaise

Your child should isolate immediately and you should contact your child’s health provider for further advice or assessment. The health care provider can help you determine whether the symptoms are related to another non-COVID-19 condition, or if they should get tested for COVID-19.


If you notice that your child has new or worsening symptoms, what you do depends on the symptom and how usual they are for your child.

If your child has new or worsening:

  • Fever/chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Decreased or loss of smell or taste

Your child should isolate immediately and you should contact your child’s health provider for further advice or assessment. The health care provider can help you determine whether the symptoms are related to another non-COVID-19 condition, or if they should get tested for COVID-19.

If your child has ONE new or worsening symptom (that is not related to a known cause or condition) that include:

  • Sore throat
  • Stuffy nose/runny nose
  • Headache
  • Nausea/vomiting/diarrhea
  • Fatigue/lethargy/muscle aches/malaise

Your child should stay home for 24 hours to be monitored to see whether the symptoms get better or worse. If they start to feel better and symptoms are improving, they can return to school/child care when well enough to do so and no COVID-19 testing is needed.

If the symptoms get worse, you should contact their health care provider for further advice or assessment. The health care provider can help you determine whether the symptoms are related to another non-COVID-19 condition, or if they should get tested for COVID-19.

If your child has TWO or MORE new or worsening symptoms (that are not related to a known cause or condition) that include:

  • Sore throat
  • Stuffy nose/runny nose
  • Headache
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue/lethargy/muscle aches or malaise

Your child should isolate immediately and you should contact your child’s health provider for further advice or assessment. The health care provider can help you determine whether the symptoms are related to another non-COVID-19 condition, or if they should get tested for COVID-19.

If your child’s only symptom is a runny nose, you should keep your child home and monito their symptoms as you would in any other year. When they feel better, they are ready to go back to school/child care and no COVID-19 testing is needed. If they get worse or develop other symptoms, you should contact their health care provider for more advice. Mild symptoms known to persist in young children (e.g., runny nose) may be ongoing at time of return to school/child care if other symptoms have been resolved.

Please check the section above ‘Children with COVID-19 symptoms’.

Asymptomatic household contacts (siblings, parents, etc.) of an ill child at home or who has been sent home from school ill, can continue to attend school or work but monitor themselves for symptoms.

You have two choices:

  • Go for COVID testing. The child should stay at home in isolation while waiting for testing and results. If test results are negative, than the child can return to school when they do not have a fever (without using fever meds) and their symptoms have been improving for 24 hours.
  • If you choose not to get tested, the child remains at home for 10 days and can return to school when they do not have a fever (without using fever meds) and their symptoms have been improving for 24 hours.

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.

Close contacts

A close contact is typically someone who had a prolonged exposure in close proximity to a person diagnosed with COVID-19. Hamilton Public Health Services identifies close contacts through a detailed review of factors such as the individual’s symptoms, where they have been, and who they have interacted with. Close contacts are contacted directly by Hamilton Public Health Services and receive further guidance, including the need to self-isolate, monitor for symptoms and implement infection prevention control measures.

COVID Close contacts

Outbreak

Hamilton Public Health Services will complete a case investigation and will work with the school to identify any contacts, as well as complete contact tracing for the school cohort and any other community contacts.

An outbreak would be declared in a school once it has been determined that there are two positive cases with an epidemiological link (e.g., these children could have become infected with COVID-19 at school either from each other or a common source). Each case will need to be assessed and it would need to be determined that transmission occurred in the school before confirming it as an outbreak since it is possible that children could have been infected outside the school setting.

School re-opening

It may be helpful to review the following with your child before schools starts:

  • Stay at home if you are sick, even when symptoms are mild. Staying home helps prevent spreading your illness to others.
  • Ensure that personal belongings and food are not shared with students or staff.
  • Practice ‘no touch’ greetings with friends and teachers.
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue. If you don't have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve or elbow, not your hands. Wash hands after coughing and sneezing.
  • If you don’t feel well, tell someone.
  • Avoid touching your face. Avoid touching your mask once it has been put on.
  • Bring your own water bottle from home to stay hydrated throughout the day.
  • When not wearing a mask, physical distancing is especially important to keep you and the friends around you healthy.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Clean phones and other devices regularly.
  • Make sure immunizations are up to date.

Tips for parents for preparing their child for school during COVID-19

Role of parents

You can create a family isolation plan to keep sick children away from vulnerable person(s) in your house and reduce contact with other social networks to lower risk. As well, you will be responsible to follow school protocols such as: 

  • daily screening of your child(ren) for symptoms using a tool as directed by your school board
  • keeping your child at home if they are ill or have symptoms and reporting illness to school
  • dropping off and picking up your child outside the school at the designated area
  • picking up your child promptly, should they become ill at school 
  • arranging for COVID-19 testing if your child becomes ill or has symptoms

Role of school board

Guided by the Ministry of Education and supported by public health, school boards are putting in place infection prevention and control measures to support student and staff safety, such as:

  • screening to ensure sick children and staff do not attend school
  • prompt isolation of sick children and staff on premises with supervision
  • contacting parents/guardians of sick children for immediate pick up
  • physical distancing to the extent possible
  • enhanced cleaning and disinfecting measures
  • student cohorting (keeping groups together) to the extent possible
  • mandatory use of masks for students and staff

School boards and public health will work together to decide on the status of schools and outbreaks.

Role of public health

Public health has been in contact with school boards throughout the pandemic. Hamilton Public Health Services supports the return to school following the directions and guidelines developed by the Ministry of Health and is committed to ongoing support of schools as they re-open by:

  • consulting on infection prevention and control measures and policies
  • providing Public Health Nurses to work with schools
  • providing health-related COVID-19 information and resources
  • advising and supporting administration on probable and confirmed cases of COVID-19
  • working with and directing administration, should an outbreak occur, around:
    • enhanced cleaning and disinfecting procedures
    • additional testing or self-isolation for close contacts (i.e. staff/students), if required
    • determining if additional protocols should be in place

Resources

 

Contact us for school-related COVID-19 questions:

Email: [email protected]
Call: 905-974-9848 Line 5 for COVID