School Re-opening Resources for Parents
The decision to send your child to school is a personal choice, where the risks and benefits of returning to school 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.
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 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
School re-opening plans
Refer to your school board for re-opening plans:
COVID-19 cases in schools
Children with COVID-19 symptoms
- Child has COVID-19 symptoms while at School (PDF, 86 KB)
- Child has COVID-19 symptoms while at Home (PDF, 83 KB)
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:
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.
Talking to your children about COVID-19 & school
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.
- City of Hamilton letter to parents & guardians regarding school re-opening (PDF, 199 KB)
- 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, tips for children with autism, COVID-19 tests for children
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