Last updated: October 14, 2020 at 2:10 p.m.

Read Toronto Public Health’s guidance for elementary and secondary schools, colleges and universities, and in-person instructional services.

Read Toronto Public Health’s guidance for elementary and secondary schools.

Read Toronto Public Health’s guidance for post-secondary schools.


This is general guidance is for operators of businesses or non-profit organizations that provide in-person teaching or instruction. Separate guidance is available for sports and recreation facilities, elementary and secondary schools, colleges and universities and other community and workplace settings.

As every organization is different, it is ultimately the responsibility of management and staff to review their own policies, procedures and site-specific circumstances, and to assess their ability to deliver services while ensuring that the appropriate infection prevention and control measures are implemented and maintained. For information about how to assess COVID-19 risks and to plan risk modifications for a business or service setting, please refer to the 4-Step Public Health Planning Guide.

Stay up to date with COVID-19 Orders under the provincial Reopening Ontario Act, as well as City of Toronto orders and bylaws and Toronto Public Health (TPH) guidance at

Mandatory Mask and Face Covering Bylaw

Effective July 7, 2020, the use of non-medical masks or face coverings is required in all indoor public spaces, as per a new City of Toronto bylaw. Operators are required to develop a policy and protocols on the wearing of masks. Refer to the guidance on mask and face covering bylaw for a sample policy your organization can adapt. Train staff on the new bylaw and new policy, including who is exempt and how to safely wear a cloth mask or face covering. More information is available here.

COVID-19 Transmission

Respiratory transmission: COVID-19 is an illness that is spread mainly from person-to-person through close contact from respiratory droplets of someone with COVID-19. The respiratory droplets can travel up to two metres/six feet when we cough, sneeze, talk or sing.

Contaminated surfaces: It is possible for a person to get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their mouth, nose, or eyes. This new coronavirus can survive on plastic and stainless steel surfaces for up to 72 hours.

Protective Measures to Keep Everyone Safe

  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Keep a two metre/six feet distance from others, when possible.
  • Wash your hands often, and avoid touching your face with unwashed hands.
  • Cough or sneeze into your elbow.
  • Wear a face mask or covering when you are in an enclosed, public setting.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

Promote Healthy Behaviours

Practice physical distancing

  • Physical distancing means keeping a distance of two meters/six feet from others.
  • Calculate the maximum number of students permitted in the instructional space that allows for two metres/six feet physical distancing, or complies with provincial limits, whichever is less. Limit numbers accordingly.
  • Physical distancing must be maintained at all times except where necessary for effective provision of teaching and instruction. This exception does not apply to activities that involve singing or the playing of brass or wind instruments.
  • Singing or playing of brass or wind instruments may be higher risk activities for COVID-19 transmission, due to generation of droplets/aerosols. Provincial orders currently require that:
  • Each person who is singing or playing must be separated by plexiglass or some other impermeable barrier, from every other person in the space; and
  • Physical distancing must be maintained, with no exceptions.

Increase public health awareness

Promote proper hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette

  • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with 70-90% alcohol concentration, provided hands are not visibly soiled.
  • Remind students and staff to avoid touching their face, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue. If you don’t have a tissue, sneeze or cough into your sleeve.
  • Post Hand Washing, Cover your Cough and Hand Sanitizing signage in visible locations.
  • Ensure that students and staff have the ability to practice hand hygiene often, and when needed:
    • Incorporate hand hygiene into breaks between activities and before and after snacks/ meals.
    • Supervise/assist students with hand hygiene if necessary.
  • Provide accessible hand sanitizer stations.
  • Monitor supplies to ensure adequate amounts of liquid soap, paper towel, (air dryer if paper towels are not available), hand sanitizer, tissues and waste receptacles with lined plastic bags.
  • Use of disposable gloves is not a substitute for proper hand hygiene. If staff or students use gloves, it is important to change gloves when changing tasks, or more often, as necessary. Wash hands with soap and water for 15 seconds before putting on and after taking off gloves.

Promote proper use of masks or face coverings

  • Masks are strongly recommended in outdoor settings when physical distancing is not possible.
  • Alternative ways to provide instruction to students who cannot tolerate wearing a mask should be considered. For example, providing instruction at the end of the day, with no other students present, and keeping a two metre/six foot physical distance as much as possible.
  • Train staff on the mask bylaw, including who is exempt. More information is available here.
  • Train staff on how to safely wear a cloth mask or face covering.

Maintain a Healthy Environment

Implement staff health screening

  • Have a flexible staff attendance policy so that staff do not come to work sick. Remind all staff about the importance of reporting illness to their supervisor/ manager.
  • Ensure all staff complete a health screening questionnaire before each shift either on paper, online or you can ask staff in person.
  • Direct staff who answer YES to any of the screening questions to stay home
  • No one with even one symptom of COVID-19 should enter the workplace.
  • Staff who become sick with COVID-19 symptoms, while at the workplace should go home immediately and contact Telehealth at 1-866-797-0000, or go to an assessment centre to get tested.
  • Keep up to date with public health advice on when staff may return to work.
  • Clearance tests are not required for staff to return to work.

Implement student and visitor health screening

  • Place self-screening posters at the entrance and ensure students and visitors do not enter if they answer YES to any of the screening questions.
  • Direct anyone who answers YES to any of the screening questions to go home and self-isolate, and contact Telehealth at 1-866-797-0000, or go to an assessment centre to get tested.

Maintain attendance records

  • Maintain voluntary attendance records of all staff, students and visitors to support public health contact tracing efforts (i.e. name, date, time, class, email address or phone number) for 30 days.
  • If someone contracts COVID-19 and was contagious onsite, TPH will investigate and notify individuals who may have been exposed to the virus.
  • Any personal information that is collected for COVID-19 contract tracing can only be used for this purpose, unless an individual provides their consent.
  • Contact TPH at 416-338-7600 if you have been notified that a staff member or student has tested positive and/or you have concerns that others may have been exposed while at the facility.
  • Encourage staff, visitors and families to download the COVID Alert app so they can be notified directly if they have been in close contact with someone who was contagious with COVID-19.

Develop plans for dealing with staff and students who become ill while at the facility

  • Develop plans/procedures/protocols that specifically address how to safely care for persons who develop COVID-19 related symptoms while at the facility.
  • Identify a space where they can be isolated from others until they can go home safely in a private vehicle and/or undergo medical assessment.

Follow workplace health and safety requirements

  • Employers must have written measures and procedures for staff safety, including for infection prevention and control.
  • The Province of Ontario has general information on COVID-19 and workplace health and safety. Learn about an employers’ responsibilities and how to protect workers at work.
  • Workers can also get information about health and safety protections at the workplace.

Enhance cleaning and disinfection

  • Avoid opportunities for the virus to spread through touch, either directly or indirectly, on surfaces and objects.
  • Encourage students to bring their own equipment and supplies for personal use.
  • Review Public Health Ontario’s Cleaning and Disinfection for Public Settings fact sheet.
  • Refer to Health Canada’s lists of hard-surface disinfectants for use against coronavirus (COVID-19) for information on disinfectants.
  • Wear gloves when cleaning and disinfecting surfaces and other protective equipment as recommended
  • Assign staff to complete cleaning and disinfection duties. Post and maintain a log to track cleaning and disinfecting activities.
  • Allow sufficient time in between classes for proper cleaning and disinfection of rooms and equipment.
  • Ensure frequent (minimum twice a day) cleaning and disinfecting of high-touch surfaces and common areas such as door handles, counters, cabinet doors, light switches, faucets, toilet handles, handrails, touch screen surfaces, keypads.
  • Chlorine bleach solutions may be prepared and used for disinfection if appropriate for the surface.
  • Ensure single-use items, including masks and gloves, are discarded immediately after use to reduce the risk of contamination. Garbage bins should be lined and disposed of regularly.
  • Provide waste receptacles lined with a plastic bag, and empty as often as necessary.

Recommended Modifications for In-Person Instructional Services and Settings

Modify programming

  • Where possible, hold classes and activities outdoors.
  • Limit or cancel activities where physical distance or other appropriate controls cannot be implemented.
  • Offer more classes/activities at a reduced capacity rather than hosting a single large class/activity.
  • Consider closing or restricting access to non-essential common areas (e.g. merchandise kiosks, concession stands, communal lounges).
  • Encourage instructors to use a microphone in large spaces.
  • Do not use a ‘waiting room’. Ask students and visitors to wait outside the facility. Ensure that physical distance is maintained in outdoor line-ups. Use visual markers and post signage.
  • Stagger arrivals and departures to reduce congestion at points of entrance and exit and in common areas.
  • If multiple classes are offered concurrently, stagger class start/end times, class breaks and other activities to reduce contact among students from different classes.
  • Where possible, establish cohort groups consisting of the same students and instructors, rather than mixing groups.
  • Assign cohort groups a designated room/space.
  • Ensure that physical distancing can be maintained during small group activities.
  • Contact sports, games or activities should not be permitted due to physical distancing requirements.

Modify the physical space

  • Walk through your space(s) to identify areas needing modifications.
  • Remove non-essential furniture to allow ease of movement for physical distancing.
  • Post physical distancing signs at all entrances, in hallways, elevators, kitchens and meeting rooms.
  • Limit and monitor entry and exit points to control the number of people entering the facility and spaces within it.
  • Monitor and manage lines outside and within the facility.
  • Design traffic flow that encourages one-way movement with prominent signage and/or floor markings.
  • Identify areas where crowding and bottlenecks are common, such as lobbies, locker rooms, washrooms, and redirect people who may gather in these areas.
  • Modify and arrange class seating plans/floor plans/activity stations to maintain physical distancing and reduce contact.
  • Encourage students to remain in their designated space for the duration of the instruction period.
  • Move equipment and machines to allow for at least two metres/six feet between users, or install physical barriers (e.g. plexiglass).

Install transparent barriers, where needed

  • A plexiglass or other impermeable barrier is required to separate every person who is singing or playing brass or wind instruments, under provincial orders. Ensure that the barrier is cleaned and disinfected after each person has used it.
    • Consider installing plexiglass or other impermeable barriers in other situations where physical distancing cannot be maintained.
    • Consider installing plexiglass or other impermeable barriers to establish enclosed spaces that are designated for staff/instructors and are not accessible to students or other members of the public.
    • A barrier should be positioned to accommodate the heights of the tallest and shortest people who will likely be near it. If one person is standing and the other is seated, the barrier should extend below the seated person’s nose and above the standing person’s nose. Barriers should also be wide enough to accommodate normal movement.
    • Download more information about installing effective barriers.

Modify the use of equipment

  • Where possible, use equipment and materials that can be easily cleaned and disinfected or are personal use or single use only.
  • Minimize sharing and frequent touching of shared objects, equipment and surfaces.
  • Provide individualized, labelled bins for each student’s equipment and supplies.
  • Limit non-essential personal items brought into the facility.

Download this information as a PDF.