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

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

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:

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.

Read about:

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.

Frequently Asked Questions


Testing

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

Students with any new or worsening symptom of COVID-19, even those with only one symptom, must stay home until:

  • They receive a negative COVID-19 test result;
  • They receive an alternative diagnosis by a health care professional; or
  • It has been 10 days since their symptom onset and they are feeling better.

If your child has a runny nose they should stay home until it is starting to improve for 24 hours. They do not need to be tested for COVID-19. If your child has a persistent runny nose that is related to an alternative diagnosis, please confirm this with your family doctor before sending them back to school or childcare.

All symptomatic, partially vaccinated, and/or unvaccinated household contacts are required to quarantine until the symptomatic individual receives a negative COVID-19 test result or an alternative diagnosis by a health care professional. If the symptomatic individual does not seek COVID-19 testing, all household contacts must quarantine for 10 days from their last contact with that symptomatic individual. Asymptomatic household contacts who are fully vaccinated can continue going to essential activities, including work and school.

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.

Graphic identifying who is and is not a close contact in school

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. 

Graphic identifying who is and is not a close contact in school

Public health measures

You should follow the usual process for reporting concerns to your school, either through your child’s teacher or by contacting the school administrator (Principal/Vice-Principal). You can also speak with your child about what they can do to stay safer at school, such as washing their hands/using an alcohol-based sanitizer, keeping their distance, and wearing their mask.

School re-opening

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.

Getting ready for back to school (August 25, 2021 with Ontario physicians)

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 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

Resources

Contact us for school-related COVID-19 questions

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