Last updated: September 23, 2021 at 5:35 p.m.

Toronto Public Health partnered with Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment (MLSE) to raise awareness about ways we can reduce the spread of COVID-19.  Find out what local athletes and coaches have to say about staying healthy living with COVID-19, why we need to watch our distance and wearing your mask at school.

Read Toronto Public Health’s tips on how to prepare for school during COVID-19 and what parents need to know if there is a case of COVID-19 at school.

Also read information on understanding COVID-19 symptoms in JK – grade 12 students, Toronto Public Health’s guidance for caring for a child who is self-isolating or has COVID-19, and COVID-19 testing.

What parents need to know when someone tests positive for COVID-19 in their child’s school or class cohort (designated group):

Notification

Parents will be notified if there is a positive case in the school. The identity of the person who tested positive for COVID-19 will not be shared as this is personal health information. It is important to remember that not all students are at-risk if there is a positive case in the school. The main concern is for close contacts of the person who has COVID-19.

Contact tracing

Toronto Public Health will follow up with the person who tested positive in a school setting to find out where they may have gotten the infection, and who they may have exposed to the virus. Toronto Public Health will work with the school to find out who they were in contact with at the school while they were contagious.

Close contacts

Someone who had close contact with a person who tested positive for COVID-19 while they were contagious is at higher risk. Being in close contact is defined as:

  • any person who was near a COVID-positive person (within two metres) for 15 minutes or more, even if they were both wearing masks;
  • a person who had multiple close encounters with a COVID-positive person over a 24-hour period (even if those encounters are less than 15 minutes);
  • someone who hugged or had close personal contact with a COVID-positive person;
  • household members and anyone cared for by a COVID-positive individual in the same home.

If someone is a close contact, they should watch for the full list of symptoms, which includes fever or chills; cough; trouble breathing; decrease or loss of taste or smell; nausea, vomiting or diarrhea; tired, sore muscles or joints; sore throat; runny or stuffy nose, abdominal pain, headache, pink eye; or a decrease or lack of appetite.

Principal can dismiss cohorts

When a person with COVID-19 is first identified in the school setting, the principal will dismiss all students in the same class cohort unless they are fully vaccinated*. Toronto Public Health will do an investigation and determine who needs to self-isolate, for how many days, and when they can return to school. Students in a bus, extra-curricular or before/after school cohort will also be dismissed.

Toronto Public Health Investigation

Once the investigation has been completed, Toronto Public Health may allow some of those cohorts back to school if the risk to the cohort is low. For example, if the person who tested positive did not get COVID-19 at school, and was not contagious while they were at school, then the class and other cohorts will not need to self-isolate.

Self-monitoring and self-isolation

If someone was contagious while at school, all students who are identified by Toronto Public Health as close contacts of that person will be instructed to:

  • Stay home and self-isolate for 10 days.
  • Monitor for symptoms of COVID-19.
  • Get tested if symptoms develop or as directed by Toronto Public Health.
  • Get tested even if they do not have symptoms.
  • Household members of close contacts are required to stay home except for essential reasons for the duration of the close contact’s isolation period. Essential reasons include attending school/child care/ work and essential errands such as obtaining groceries, attending medical appointments or picking up prescriptions. Those who are fully vaccinated* or had a previous recent COVID-19 infection** are not required to stay home.

If the student who is a close contact is without symptoms and fully vaccinated* or had a previous recent COVID-19 infection**, they may not be required to self-isolate. They may still be required to monitor for symptoms for 10 days and go for testing.

If Toronto Public Health determines that the students or staff did not have close contact with the person who had COVID-19, they will be allowed to end self-isolation.

Other students in the school should also monitor for symptoms if there is a positive case in the school.

Self-isolation time periods

The incubation period for COVID-19 is 10 days, and so if you were a close contact you must self-isolate for 10 days as that is how long it can take to develop symptoms. Close contacts who do not have symptoms and are fully vaccinated* or had a previous recent COVID-19 infection** may not need to self-isolate.

People with COVID-19 are infectious for 10 days. If you have tested positive for COVID-19 you need to self-isolate for 10 days. However, if you were hospitalized or have a weak immune system, you may need to self-isolate for a longer period of time.

Safe return to school

Toronto Public Health will advise students who have been asked to self-isolate when they can return to school.

Declaring an outbreak

Toronto Public Health is responsible for declaring an outbreak, and for providing directions during an outbreak. An outbreak is two or more positive COVID-19 cases in a school, within a 14-day period, with at least one infection traced back to the school environment. This may include transportation to and from school, or before and after school care. An outbreak can be declared for a class, grade or school.

*Fully vaccinated is defined as 14 days or more after getting a second dose of a two dose COVID-19 vaccine series or a single dose of a one dose vaccine series.

**Previous recent COVID-19 infection means that the person has tested positive for COVID-19 in the last 90 days and has been cleared by public health. They may not need to self-isolate as long as they don’t have symptoms.


Download this information as a PDF.

Download this information as a PDF in French.

If someone at school tests positive for COVID-19, parents will be notified. Not all students will be at-risk for potential infection. Monitor your child for symptoms for 10 days.

Monitor your child for any new or worsening symptoms every day:

  • Fever > 37.8°C and/or chills
  • Cough
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Loss of taste or smell
  • Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea

If someone is ill or has many symptoms of illness that could be COVID-19, they should be tested for COVID-19 or see their health care provider.

If your child was a close contact of someone who tested positive:

Even if your child is fully vaccinated* or recently had a COVID-19 infection**, watch closely for any symptom of COVID-19 every day. The full list of symptoms include:

  • fever or chills;
  • cough;
  • trouble breathing;
  • decrease or loss of taste or smell;
  • nausea, vomiting or diarrhea;
  • tired, sore muscles or joints;
  • sore throat;
  • runny or stuffy nose,
  • abdominal pain,
  • headache,
  • pink eye; or
  • decrease or lack of appetite.

Encourage everyone in your household to:

  • Wear a mask in public spaces to protect others.
  • Avoid crowded places.
  • Limit contact with others with health issues or who are elderly.
  • Keep a two metre distance from others.

If your child develops symptoms:

Self-isolate immediately, get tested, and contact public health at 416-338-7600. See instructions on how to self-isolate.

*Fully vaccinated is defined as 14 days or more after getting a second dose of a two dose COVID-19 vaccine series or a single dose of a one dose vaccine series.

**Previous recent COVID-19 infection means that the person has tested positive for COVID-19 in the last 90 days and has been cleared by public health. They may not need to self-isolate as long as they don’t have symptoms.


Download this information as a PDF (also available in French).

If your child has one or more (new or worsening) symptoms of COVID-19, they should stay at home, self-isolate, and get tested. Call your child’s school to let them know that your child has COVID-19 symptoms.

Get tested

  • Contact your child’s health care provider if you have questions about testing.
  • Some schools have testing kits available at the school.
  • Make an appointment at an Assessment Centre near you to get tested.
  • Children can get a throat or nose swab. Saliva tests are also available.

Household members

  • The adults and siblings or children in the same household as the child who has symptoms also must stay home and self-isolate until COVID-19 can be ruled out.
  • If any adult or child in the household develops symptoms they must stay home, self-isolate and get tested.
  • If the child with symptoms was a close contact of someone with COVID-19, everyone in the home needs to stay home and self-isolate for 10 days or until the child with symptoms has a negative test.
  • Household members of the child who has symptoms do not need to self-isolate if they do not have symptoms and they are fully vaccinated* or they had a previous recent COVID-19 infection**. If they develop symptoms they must self-isolate.

Check your child’s test results

You can check your test results at covid-19.ontario.ca by clicking on “check your lab results.” Results can take a few days.

If your child tests negative for COVID-19:

  • Your child may return to child care/ school if it has been 24 hours since their symptoms started improving (48 hours for nausea, diarrhea and vomiting).
  • Siblings or adults who attend the school setting may return to school right away, as long as they pass the screening questions.
  • Young children may have ongoing mild symptoms. If it is not new or worse, they may go back to school if they don’t have other symptoms.

If your child tests positive for COVID-19:

  • Your child must stay home and self-isolate for 10 days from the day the symptoms started.
  • Household members and close contacts must also self-isolate for at least 10 days. They do not need to self-isolate if they do not have symptoms and they are fully vaccinated* or they had a previous recent COVID-19 infection**.
  • If they develop symptoms they must self-isolate.
  • Let your child care/school know that your child tested positive for COVID-19.
  • Toronto Public Health will contact you to do an investigation and with further instructions.

Not tested

  • If your child did not have a COVID-19 test, they must stay home and self-isolate for 10 days from the day the symptoms began. Even if their symptoms improve, they must stay home for 10 days.
  • All household members must also self-isolate for 10 days. They do not need to self-isolate if they do not have symptoms and they are fully vaccinated or they had a previous recent COVID-19 infection**. If they develop symptoms they must self-isolate.

Sick for other reasons

  • Sometimes children are sick for other reasons. If your health care provider has said your child’s symptoms are not related to COVID-19, your child may return to child care/school 24 hours after their symptoms have improved (48 hours for nausea, vomiting, diarrhea).
  • Siblings and adults who attend the child care/school setting can also return.
  • For new colds or respiratory illnesses (flu, bronchitis or pneumonia) that present with similar symptoms to COVID-19 and can make your child sick, your health care provider cannot rule out COVID-19 without a test. A child who is sick with respiratory symptoms should stay home and get tested for COVID-19 or speak to their health care provider. Toronto Public Health does not recommend using a medical note to confirm this.

Have questions?

Please contact Toronto Public Health at 416-338-7600.

*Fully vaccinated is defined as have received two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, and it has been more than 2 weeks since the last dose, or one dose in a single-dose vaccine series.

**Previous recent COVID-19 infection: Person has tested positive for COVID-19 in the last 90 days and has been cleared by public health. They may not need to self-isolate as long as they don’t have symptoms.


Download this information as a PDF. Also available in French.

 

When should you get tested?

If you have symptoms of COVID-19

Get tested at:
  • an assessment centre or
  • use a PCR take-home test from your school or child care centre

Do not use a rapid antigen test.

If you are a close contact of someone who has COVID-19

Get tested & screen yourself for symptoms every day.

  • If you:
    • Are fully vaccinated*- get tested right away and again on or after day 7 from your last exposure.
    • Are not fully vaccinated*- get tested right away and again on or after day 7 from your last exposure. You will have to self-isolate for 10 days, even if you test negative.
    • Had a previous recent COVID-19 infection** – get tested if recommended by public health.

If site-wide testing is available and you have no symptoms

  • Site-wide testing helps with a COVID-19 investigation.
  • Testing may be organized at an assessment centre, on-site, or using a PCR take-home test kit.

What to expect when going to an assessment centre for testing:

  • The person being tested may be asked to fill out a form providing their name, date of birth, etc.
  • A health card is not required to get tested.

Types of COVID-19 tests

PCR Test (Polymerase Chain Reaction Test)

  • Used if you have symptoms or are a close contact of someone who tested positive for COVID-19.
  • PCR tests are analyzed at a lab. Results usually come in 24–72 hours and can diagnose a COVID-19 infection.
Types of PCR tests:
  • Nasopharyngeal (NP): The swab is inserted to the back of the nose, taken by a healthcare provider.
  • Oral-nasal swab: The swab is inserted in the mouth and inside the front of the nose.
  • Saliva test: Saliva is collected by spitting in a tube.

Saliva and oral-nasal swab kits are used in take home kits available at schools and child care centres. Collect the sample at home and drop if off so it can be sent to the lab.

Rapid Antigen Test

  • Used for screening purposes only – it cannot diagnose a COVID-19 infection.
  • If used for screening, it should be completed a few times a week.
  • Do not use if you have symptoms or are a close contact of someone who had COVID-19.
  • If results are positive you must arrange to get a PCR test within 24 hours.
  • You must self-isolate right away and until you get a negative PCR test result.

For more information, visit toronto.ca/COVID19Testing

* Fully vaccinated means 14 days or more after a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine series or as
defined by the Ontario Ministry of Health.

**Previous recent COVID-19 infection means that the person has tested positive for COVID-19 in the last 90 days and has been cleared by public health.


Download this information as a PDF.

Parents have questions about COVID-19, and what they should be doing to protect their families and their community. Below are some examples of possible situations with information to help guide parents.

Julia has symptoms of COVID-19:

  • Julia needs to self-isolate at home, and arrange to get tested.
  • Julia’s household members must stay at home until Julia tests negative, or is cleared by the public health unit, or is diagnosed with another illness.
  • Household members who are fully vaccinated* or had a previous recent COVID-19 infection** are not required to self-isolate. Julia can return to child care/school if her test is negative, and her symptoms have been improving for at least 24 hours (48 hours for nausea, vomiting, diarrhea).
  • Julia’s siblings and adult family members who attend a child care/school setting can return to school if Julia tests negative.

Mario has symptoms after getting a COVID-19 vaccine:

  • Some people get mild symptoms such as a headache, muscle aches/sore joints or feeling tired within 48 hours after getting a COVID-19 vaccine. If Mario has a headache, muscle aches/sore joints or feels tired, it can be a side effect from the vaccine. If these symptoms last longer than 48 hours or worsen he should self isolate and go for testing.
  • If Mario has other symptoms, he should self-isolate and get tested.
  • Full protection from COVID-19 vaccines occurs 14 days or more after the second dose of a two-dose vaccine series

* Fully vaccinated: Fully vaccinated means 14 days or more after getting a second dose of a two dose COVID-19 vaccine series, or one dose of a single dose COVID-19 vaccine series. They may not need to self-isolate as long as they don’t have symptoms.**Previous recent COVID-19 infection: Person has tested positive for COVID-19 in the last 90 days and has been cleared by public health. They may not need to self-isolate as long as they don’t have symptoms.

Abishola has symptoms and tests positive for COVID-19:

  • Abishola must stay home and self-isolate for 10 days from the day her symptoms started.
  • Everyone in Abishola’s household must watch closely for the full list of COVID-19 symptoms including: fever or chills; cough; trouble breathing; decrease or loss of taste or smell; nausea, vomiting or diarrhea; tired, sore muscles or joints; sore throat; runny or stuffy nose, abdominal pain, headache, pink eye; or a decrease or lack of appetite.
  • Household members who are fully vaccinated* or had a previous recent COVID-19 infection** and do not have symptoms do not need to self-isolate. All other household members will have to self-isolate for 10 days from their last exposure to Abishola.
  • All household members should still go for testing as recommended by public health.

Bao Lee has symptoms of COVID-19, but did not get tested:

  • Bao-Lee must stay home and self-isolate for 10 days from when his symptoms started.
  • Adults and children in his household who are not fully vaccinated* or have not had a previous recent COVID-19 infection** must self-isolate until Bao-Lee gets a negative COVID-19 test or 10 days have passed. If a household member has symptoms, even if they are vaccinated or had a previous recent COVID-19 infection, they must stay home, self-isolate and get tested.

Abdul was in close contact with someone who has COVID-19:

  • If Abdul is not fully vaccinated* or has not had a previous recent COVID-19 infection** he must stay home and self-isolate for 10 days and follow public health advice.
  • Abdul’s Household members can attend school/child care/work, as long as they don’t have symptoms of COVID-19, but will need to stay home for other non-essential reasons until Abdul completes his 10 day self-isolation.
  • If Abdul develops symptoms, all children and adults in the household who are not fully vaccinated* or have not had a previous recent COVID-19 infection** must stay home and self-isolate until COVID-19 is ruled out.
  • Abdul should go for testing. Even if Abdul tests negative, he must complete his 10 days of self-isolation before he returns to school as that is how long it can take for symptoms to appear.

Berta’s mom is not vaccinated and was in close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19:

  • Since Berta’s mom has not been vaccinated she must stay home and selfisolate for 10 days, and arrange to get tested. Even if the test is negative, Berta’s mom must self-isolate for the full 10 days.
  • Berta and her siblings can still go to school but are required to stay home except for essential reasons for the duration of Berta’s mom’s isolation period. Essential reasons include attending school/child care/day camp/ work and essential errands such as obtaining groceries, attending medical appointments or picking up prescriptions.
  • If Berta’s mom develops symptoms of COVID-19 all children and adults in the household who are not fully vaccinated* or have not had a previous recent COVID-19 infection** must stay home and self-isolate until COVID-19 is ruled out.

Jackson’s dad has travelled outside of Canada in the last 14 days:

  • If Jackson’s dad is not exempt from federal quarantine requirements, Jackson’s dad must stay home and self-isolate for 14 days, preferably in a separate room from others in the house.
  • Jackson and his household members can continue to attend school/ work as long as Jackson’s dad has no symptoms. They are required to stay home except for essential reasons for the duration of Jackson’s dad’s isolation period. Essential reasons include attending school/child care/day camp/work and essential errands such as obtaining groceries, attending medical appointments or picking up prescriptions.
  • If Jackson’s dad develops symptoms, he should get tested. Jackson and everyone else in his household who is not fully vaccinated* or who has not had a previous recent COVID-19 infection** will have to stay home and self-isolate until COVID-19 is ruled out.

* Fully vaccinated: Fully vaccinated means 14 days or more after getting a second dose of a two dose COVID-19 vaccine series, or one dose of a single dose COVID-19 vaccine series. They may not need to self-isolate as long as they don’t have symptoms. **Previous recent COVID-19 infection: Person has tested positive for COVID-19 in the last 90 days and has been cleared by public health. They may not need to self-isolate as long as they don’t have symptoms.

Download the Know when to Self-Monitor, Self-Isolate or Send your Child to School Infographic (also available in French)

Screening Poster for Child Care, Day Camps and Schools

Download the Screening Poster for Child Care, Day Camps and Schools. Size 8.5 x 11 inches.

Also available in Amharic | Arabic | Bengali | Simplified Chinese | Traditional Chinese | Dari | Farsi | French | Greek | Gujarati | Hebrew | Hindi | Hungarian | Italian | Karen | Korean | Nepali | PolishPortuguese | PunjabiRussian | Serbian | Slovak | Somali | Spanish | Tagalog | Tamil | Tibetan | Tigrinya | Turkish | Ukrainian | Urdu | Vietnamese

screenshot of screening poster for child care, day camps and schools

Screening Questionnaire for Child Care, Day Camps and Schools

Download the Screening Questionnaire for Child Care, Day Camps and Schools. Size 8.5 x 11 inches.

Also available in Amharic | Arabic | Bengali | Simplified Chinese | Traditional Chinese | Dari | Farsi | French | GreekGujarati | Hebrew | Hindi | Hungarian | Italian | KarenKoreanNepali | Polish | Portuguese | Punjabi | Russian | Serbian | Slovak | Somali | Spanish | Tagalog | Tamil | Tibetan | Tigrinya | Turkish | Ukrainian | Urdu | Vietnamese

screenshot of screening questionnaire for child care, day camps and schools

 

Screening Poster for Staff/Visitors to Child Care, Day Camps and Schools

Download the Screening Poster for Staff/Visitors to Child Care, Day Camps and Schools. Size 8.5 x 11 inches.

Also available in French

screenshot of child care and school staff/visitor screening poster

Screening Questionnaire for Staff/Visitors to Child Care, Day Camps and Schools

Download the Screening Questionnaire for Staff/Visitors to Child Care, Day Camps and Schools. Size 8.5 x 11 inches.

Also available in French

screenshot of child care and school staff/visitor screening questionnaire

Read Toronto Public Health’s information on face masks and coverings, including qualities of a good mask, proper use of a face mask, what to avoid and more.

Resources:

Learn more about the school immunization program.

COVID-19 & Physical Distancing

COVID-19 & Hand Hygiene

COVID-19 & Face Masks

 

 

 

 

 

Read Toronto Public Health’s letters to parents:

Read Toronto Public Health’s information on COVID-19 & Oral Health including tips on practicing good oral hygiene and preventing dry mouth.