School COVID-19 Resources for Parents
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
All staff, students and visitors must self-screen every day before attending school. Students who are experiencing symptoms consistent with COVID-19 as identified in the screening tool, must not attend school and should follow the guidance provided in the screening tool, which may include seeking appropriate medical attention as required, and/or getting tested for COVID-19. The Ministry may direct schools to confirm self-screening, such as during a period of potential higher transmission (e.g., after a holiday period).
Children with COVID-19 symptoms
- Child has COVID-19 symptoms while at School (PDF, 212 KB)
- Child has COVID-19 symptoms while at Home (PDF, 195 MB)
- L’enfant symptomatique a l’ecole ou á la garderie (PDF, 74 KB)
L’enfant symptomatique a la maison (PDF, 72 KB)
COVID-19 cases & outbreaks in schools
Public health measures
To protect ourselves and others from spreading COVID-19, there are some important things we can do:
Hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette
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:
- Video: Hand-washing heroes (Junior Kindergarten to Gr. 2)
- Video: Wash your hands dance (Grade 3 and above)
- Video: Wash your hands (Gr. 9-12)
Children should also be taught proper respiratory etiquette, i.e. to cough into their elbow or sleeve or to cover their mouth and nose with a tissue when they cough or sneeze and to put used tissues in the garbage.
Students in Grades 1 to 12 are required to wear properly fitted non-medical or cloth masks indoors in school, including in hallways and during classes, as well as on school vehicles. Masks may be temporarily removed indoors for the following activities, with a minimum distance of two metres between cohorts and as much distancing as possible within a cohort to:
- engage in low-contact physical activity such as physical education
- consume food or drink
Students are not required to wear masks outdoors, but should keep as much distance as possible between cohorts.
Both the HWDSB and the HWCDSB are requiring that JK and SK students wear their masks at school.
Physical distancing helps limit the spread of infection when used with the other public health measures such as wearing a mask, staying home when sick and hand washing.
Talking to your children about COVID-19 & school
It may be helpful to review the following with your child before schools starts:
- COVID-19 vaccines are available to those who are born in 2009 or earlier.
- Stay at home if you are sick, even when a symptoms is mild. Staying home helps prevent spreading your illness to others.
- 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.
Roles in school re-opening
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 a symptom 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 a symptom
talking to your child about COVID-19 vaccines, if applicable, and supporting COVID-19 vaccination when your child is eligible
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
- Public Health Ontario how to care for a child who needs to self-isolate
- Government of Canada activities for children and information for parents
- Government of Canada activities for children and information for parents - French
- Government of Canada information for youth & young adults
- Government of Canada information for youth & young adults - French
- Hamilton Health Sciences videos: masks, anxiety about school return, COVID-19 tests for children
- Child Youth Mental Health During COVID
Contact us for school-related COVID-19 questions
Email: [email protected]
Phone: 905-974-9848 Line 5 for COVID
- Date modified: