Last updated: September 15, 2020 at 6:10 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 Institutions (also available below),   COVID-19 Prevention Checklist for Post-Secondary Institutions (also available below) and Resources for Post-Secondary Schools (also available below).

The Planning Guide for Colleges and Universities identifies issues and critical elements of emergency preparedness that organizations should consider in planning for a pandemic.


COVID-19 Guidance for Post-Secondary Institutions

The following are recommended guidelines, with examples, for post-secondary institutions to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Each institution should update their policies and procedures, and review government orders, directives, and by-laws, to assess their ability to deliver planned, in-person education and related services while ensuring that the appropriate infection prevention and control measures are implemented and maintained.

COVID-19 is circulating in the community in Toronto. Keep current and comply with provincial orders (e.g. limits on size of gatherings), City of Toronto orders, directives, and bylaws (e.g. maintaining and enforcing physical distancing), and provincial stages of re-opening, including sector-specific guidance at Reopening Ontario.

Updated information about COVID-19 can be found in Toronto Public Health’s COVID-19 Fact Sheet.

Maintain a Healthy Environment

Support and encourage hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette
  • Educate staff and students on proper hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette and encourage them to:
    • Wash their hands with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer (70–90% alcohol concentration), provided hands are not visibly soiled. Remind staff, students, and others to avoid touching their face, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
    • Cover their cough or sneeze into a tissue.
  • 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.
  • Post hand hygiene signs in clearly visible areas.
  • Provide alcohol-based hand sanitizer (70-90% alcohol concentration) in dispensers near entrances, inside classrooms, at service counters, and near other high touch locations for staff, student and visitor use.
Practice physical distancing
  • Physical distancing means keeping a distance of two meters/six feet from others.
  • Ensure that staff, students, and other visitors can maintain physical distancing:
    • Ensure that the total number of students permitted in each instructional space, at any one time, does not exceed limit for the current provincial stage of re-opening, and that it is limited to the number that can maintain a physical distance of at least two metres/six feet from every other person in the space.
    • Limit the number of participants in each group attending classes/activities and minimize or limit the mixing of participants between groups.
    • Stagger classes/activity times to promote proper physical distancing.
    • Designate and clearly mark specific, separate entrances and exits, and only permit entry and exit through these doors.
    • Ensure that there are systems in place to manage capacity in indoor spaces (e.g. position an employee at key entrances to control visitor entry and exit. Once the maximum number of people is reached, allow one person in for every person that leaves.)
    • Post signs directing people to stay only within specified area(s) and to refrain from lingering.
    • Encourage the use of stairs, when possible. Where required, elevator use should be limited to maintain a safe distance, and encourage the use of masks if using an elevator.
    • Discourage unnecessary group gatherings on the premises.
    • Avoid activities involving singing, shouting or speaking loudly indoors.
    • Provide visible markings and visual cues by placing markers such as tape, safety cones/pylons or painted lines every two metres/six feet.
    • Implement structural barriers and cordon off areas to restrict access to closed areas.
    • Develop and post clear traffic flow signs to minimize unnecessary interactions.
Face masks and coverings
  • Face masks and coverings are strongly recommended in settings when physical distancing (two meters/six feet) cannot be maintained. They are also recommended in all indoor settings. Masks do not replace the need for physical distancing, hand washing, and staying home when sick.
  • Develop policies regarding non-medical mask use as the City of Toronto’s mandatory mask bylaw does not apply to post-secondary institutions.
  • Post signs in visible areas on the proper use of masks and how to safely put on and take off a mask.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
  • Consult Occupational Health and Safety staff and develop policies and protocols for the use of PPE for students and staff (e.g. use of googles/face shield /gloves when cleaning or during student placements off-campus), both on campus and during off–campus placements.
  • Train students and staff on the proper use of PPE. Refer to Public Health Ontario resources or Public Services Health and Safety Association.
  • A medical grade mask may be recommended if teaching in a classroom where students are not masked and physical distancing cannot be maintained to allow for two-way protection for the staff.
  • A face shield does not provide equivalent protection to a mask. A mask should be worn, and then if needed, a face shield or goggle on top of that. See Ministry of Labour guidelines.
  • Staff must wear a surgical mask and eye protection (e.g. goggles, face shield) when:
  • Cleaning and disinfecting blood or bodily fluid spills if there is a risk of splashing or droplets.
  • Caring for a sick individual or someone showing symptoms of illness.
  • Gloves are not required for COVID-19 prevention as proper hand washing is sufficient. However, gloves must be worn when it is anticipated that hands will come into contact with mucous membranes, broken skin, tissue, blood, bodily fluids, secretions, excretions, contaminated equipment or environmental surfaces.
Provide education
Develop / update infection prevention and control (IPAC) policies and procedures
  • Develop and/or update administrative and IPAC policies and procedures to include mitigation measures to help reduce the spread of COVID-19.
  • COVID-19-related policies and procedures must address the following topics:
    • Screening
    • Attendance management and reporting, including follow-up with staff to determine reasons for unplanned absence
    • Cohorting staff and students, including the use of supply teachers
    • Guests/volunteers in institution setting
    • Transportation of ill students
    • Physical distancing
    • Hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette
    • Mask requirements for students and staff
    • Isolation/exclusion of ill staff and students
    • Return to work/learn for symptomatic staff and students
    • Enhanced environmental cleaning and disinfection
    • Cleaning and disinfection of toys, equipment and other shared materials
    • Food safety practices
    • Use of PPE
    • Communication plans, including platforms, to communicate with stakeholders
  • Management of cases and outbreaks of COVID-19, with the guidance of Toronto Public Health (TPH) and the provincial Ministry of Health, including:
    • Management of symptomatic staff and students; including testing and those who choose not to be tested.
    • Management of cohorts exposed to a symptomatic/confirmed case of COVID-19.
  • Develop an attendance policy for staff to ensure staff do not come to work sick. For more information, refer to TPHs COVID-19 Guidance for Workplaces and Businesses.
  • Consider promoting Health Canada’s COVID Alert app with students, staff and visitors so they can be notified directly if they have been in close contact with someone who was contagious with COVID-19.
Train staff
  • All institution staff must be aware of the signs and symptoms of COVID-19.
  • Train staff to ensure they are aware of and can implement COVID-19 related policies and procedures.
  • Train staff on proper use of PPE. Refer to Public Health Ontario resources or the Public Services Health and Safety Association.
  • Encourage staff 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.
Screen staff and students for COVID-19 symptoms
  • It is strongly recommended that all staff and students complete a COVID-19 symptom screening questionnaire before coming on campus every day, and to stay home if they answer YES to any of the questions.
  • Develop an attendance policy, including criteria for return to work, for staff and students, to ensure they do not come to work sick.
  • Refer to Toronto Public Health’s COVID-19 Guidance for Workplaces and Businesses and Health and Safety Guidance during COVID-19 for Employers of Office Settings, as applicable.
  • Institute a screening process for individuals at each of your buildings (e.g. use a designated area outside the main entrances as screening stations or use online self-assessments that can be completed before travelling to campus). Active screening is preferred, if possible.
  • Post signs in visible areas which clearly explains the screening process and the rules and conditions for entry.
  • The screening station must allow a minimum of two metres/six feet distance between staff conducting the screening and the individual being screened.
  • Alternatively, a protective barrier (e.g. plexiglass) can be equipped around the screening station.
  • If physical distancing or a barrier is not possible, staff conducting the screening should wear a mask and other PPE, if required.
  • Make alcohol-based (70-90% alcohol concentration) hand sanitizer available at the screening stations for participants who have answered NO to all questions for use prior to entry into the facility.
  • Post signs at all entrances instructing students, parents, staff and others not to enter the institution if they are sick.
  • No individuals who answer YES to any of the symptom screening questionnaire questions should be permitted to enter.
    • Direct all individuals who answer YES to any of the screening questions to this webpage to learn what to do next.
  • Daily temperature screening is not required or recommended. Active screening through the questionnaire is more beneficial since not all people contagious with COVID-19 have a fever.
Enhance attendance reporting practices for staff, student and visitors
  • Ensure contact information is collected for all staff, students and visitors who use buildings (e.g. through sign in upon entry and sign out upon exit from designated areas of campus, as feasible, or through electronic means for collecting contact and use records).
  • Maintain daily attendance records of all staff, students, and visitors (including maintenance workers) entering the campus, including comprehensive attendance reporting of sick and well staff and students.
    • Records should include: name, contact information, date, time of arrival/departure, reason for visit, rooms/areas visited, completion of screening, etc.
    • Ensure attendance records are available on-site at all times, and may be required by public health for contact tracing purposes should there be a case of COVID-19 linked to the campus.
    • Consider how you will ensure privacy and confidentiality of personal information, including safely storing and disposing of any records, as well as what and to whom you may need to communicate.
    • Update attendance records when any staff are absent, including reasons for any unplanned absences, and noting symptoms (e.g. fever, sore throat, cough) to determine if absence is due to illness.
    • Retain records for at least one month.
  • Monitor attendance records for patterns or trends (e.g. students and staff in the same group or cohort absent at the same time or over the course of a few days).
  • Non-essential visitors must not be permitted to enter the campus.
Ill and confirmed COVID-19 positive students and staff
  • Send staff, students, and others (e.g. delivery or maintenance personnel) who become ill while on campus home / to dormitory immediately.
    • If they are very ill and require urgent care, call 911.
    • If they do not require urgent care, send them home immediately and direct them to this webpage to learn what to do next, including getting tested. As appropriate, this information should be noted in attendance records.
  • If ill and/or symptomatic students cannot go home, immediately separate them from others in a designated room and supervise them until they can go home / to their dormitories.
    • Ensure physical distancing can be maintained in rooms/area.
    • Ask individuals in these rooms to wear masks (if tolerated)
    • Ideally, the designated room should have a handwashing sink. If this is not possible, ensure that alcohol-based (70-90% alcohol concentration) hand sanitizer is widely available in these areas.
    • Provide tissues to the ill student to help support respiratory etiquette.
    • Ensure these individuals have access to designated washrooms separate from other staff/students.
    • If possible, open outside doors and windows to increase air circulation in the area.
    • Frequently clean and disinfect (see below for more information) the area after the individual with symptoms has been sent home.
    • Staff attending to / supervising the ill student should maintain physical distancing as best as possible and wear PPE, including surgical mask.
    • Clean and disinfect the area immediately after the student with symptoms has gone home.
  • Students/staff who are COVID-19 positive cannot return to the institution until they are cleared by public health (typically 14 days after symptoms started).
  • Students/staff who test negative can return to the institution as long as their symptoms are resolved, and once they are symptom free for 24 hours.
  • Further guidance on students who have symptoms but do not get tested is coming soon.
Report cases and outbreaks to Toronto Public Health
  • Post-secondary institutions must immediately report the following to the TPH intake e-mail address: CovidSchools@toronto.ca (8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., Monday to Friday; 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., Saturday, Sunday and Statutory Holidays) or call 3-1-1 outside of these hours:
    • Clusters of suspected cases or increased student/staff absenteeism.
    • Cases of COVID-19 among staff or students that are laboratory-confirmed or probable (i.e. symptoms occurring among a staff or student who has been exposed to a person with confirmed COVID-19).
  • Please include the following information in your e-mail:
    • Name of institution and address
    • Name of institution’s contact name, phone number and email
    • Name of ill staff/student
    • Contact information for staff/student (phone number, address, and, if possible, date of birth)
    • Onset date of symptoms
    • Last day at institutions
    • Laboratory confirmed Y/N
    • Name of who reported the case to the institutions
    • Any other reports of ill staff or students.
    • Additional information about reporting may be released soon.
  • Confirmed and suspected cases of COVID-19 are reported by health care providers and laboratories to TPH, at which time TPH will perform a risk assessment for all exposures, including those that may occurred at the institution. Public health will also advise if there are any additional special measures that should be taken.
  • If TPH has not contacted you yet, and you are aware of confirmed COVID-19 positive case(s), you can notify TPH and determine next steps you can take by emailing TPH intake at: CovidSchools@toronto.ca (8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., Monday to Friday; 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Saturday, Sunday and Statutory Holidays) or call 3-1-1 outside of these hours.
  • Unless informed otherwise by TPH, maintain confidentiality of staff’s/student’s personal health information if you are aware that a resident has COVID-19 or is a close contact of a person with COVID-19.
  • If a student’s or staff’s symptoms are worsening and they are concerned, they can contact Telehealth at 1-866-797-0000 or call their health care provider.
  • Students or staff who have symptoms of COVID-19 and test negative can return to activities 24 hours after their symptoms resolve, as long as they are not required to self-isolate for other reasons (e.g. recent travel or being a close contact of a someone who had COVID-19).
  • There are no tests or clearance letter required for return to campus/activities. Most people can return to work/school 14 days after their symptoms started as long as the symptoms are resolving.
On-site COVID-19 testing
  • To request access to on-site, community mobile COVID-19 testing (e.g. outbreaks in residences), email your request to Ontario Health Agency Toronto Region at: TRTestingIntake@tc.lhins.on.ca. They may require health information and related details that pertain directly to the organization or agency making the request. The following information should be included in your request:
    • Location for mobile testing
    • Total number of units or areas
    • Number of residents to be tested
    • Number of staff to be tested (if applicable).

Please note that Ontario Health Agency Toronto Region will be prioritizing requests based on an assessment of risk factors such as large cohort or if in a congregate setting

Maintain heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems
  • Ensure the HVAC system(s) are adequately maintained.
  • Where provided, use the highest efficiency filters that are compatible with the HVAC system.
  • Increase air-exchanges if possible.
  • Rooms provided with ceiling fans should have an upward airflow rotation.
  • Keep areas near HVAC inlets and outlets clear.
  • Seating should be arranged away from areas with high airflow (i.e. not in front of air vents).
  • If fans are used, they must be positioned to provide an upward movement of air.
  • Make plans for days when the institution may be hot without air conditioning. Consider holding classes outdoors where ventilation is improved.
Implement enhanced environmental cleaning and disinfection practices
  • Assign dedicated facility staff to complete environmental cleaning and disinfection duties.
  • Ensure frequent cleaning and disinfecting of high-touch surfaces and shared objects (e.g. doorknobs, water fountain knobs, light switches, toilet and faucet handles, electronic devices, tabletops) at least twice a day and when visibly dirty. If the same student is using the chair and desk all day it can be cleaned once daily at the end of the day.
    • Review Public Health Ontario’s Cleaning and Disinfection for Public Settings fact sheet.
    • Refer to Health Canada’s list of hard surface disinfectants and hand sanitzers for use against coronavirus (COVID-19) for approved products.
    • Clean and disinfect individual items handled by more than one individual such as electronic devices, toys, sporting equipment, balls and mats after each use. If items are difficult to disinfect consider not using them, or placing in quarantine for a minimum of three days until they can be used again.
    • Clean and disinfect the area used by an individual suspect of having COVID-19. This includes all surfaces within two metres/six feet of the ill person. Remove all items that cannot be cleaned (paper, books, etc.) and store them in a sealed container for a minimum of three days.
  • Educate facility staff on how to use cleaning agents and disinfectants, and ensure:
    • Required disinfectant contact times are followed (i.e. amount of time that the product will need to remain wet on a surface to achieve disinfection).
    • Use of safety precautions and required PPE.
    • Directions for where and how to securely store cleaning and disinfectant supplies.
  • Clean and disinfect staff/student washrooms and other areas as necessary throughout the day to maintain sanitation.
  • Provide waste receptacles lined with a plastic bag, and empty as often as necessary.
  • Monitor and clean the parking lot and institution outdoor grounds daily and as necessary (e.g. for discarded gloves, masks, litter).

Providing Services to Students and Staff

Classrooms/labs
  • Implement physical distancing and other IPAC measures outlined above.
  • If possible, open outside doors and windows to increase air circulation in the area.
  • If feasible, assign equipment/supplies to each student and mark with their names to reduce the sharing of equipment/supplies, and ensure shared equipment and supplies are cleaned and disinfected between each use.
  • Remind students not to share personal items.
On campus dining/restaurants
  • Keep current and comply with provincial orders and City of Toronto directives and by-laws related to dining/food establishments related to COVID-19.
  • Suspend unnecessary communal dining. If allowing, the communal dining area in cafeterias / dining rooms must be configured so that patrons seated at different tables are separated by:
    • a distance of at least two metres / six feet, or
    • plexiglass or some other impermeable barrier.
  • Consider staggering mealtimes, and clean and disinfect surfaces between uses or serve residents individual meals in their rooms. (Note: Customer logs would not be required for cafeterias.)
  • Remove shared food containers/utensils from dining areas (e.g. pitchers of water, salt and pepper shakers).
  • Use pre-packaged items and dispense snacks directly to students.
  • In-house food services that are preparing food for room service should use single-use containers and cutlery.
  • For more information, refer to:
    • TPHs COVID-19 Guidance for Food Premises
    • COVID-19 Guidance for Food Premises: Best Practices Summary Sheet, Ontario Ministry of Health
    • Restaurant and food services health and safety during COVID-19, Ontario Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development
    • COVID-19 Tips: Restaurants and Food Services, Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety
Student placements and co-operative education
  • Limit unnecessary student placements, and movement between facilities/locations.
  • Consider alternative ways to facilitate learning (e.g. virtual) other than in-person attendance,
  • Keep records of visits to off-campus facilities (e.g. date and time of visit, facility visited, areas accessed) by students.
Health and physical education / organized sports
  • Keep current and comply with provincial orders, City of Toronto directives and by-laws, as well as Reopening Ontario sector-specific guidance related to indoor and outdoor organized sports.
  • Follow public health advice, including those above, as well as individual sport associations’ recommendations, as appropriate.
  • Offer classes in outdoors.
  • Gymnasiums should only be used when physical distancing measures can be followed.
  • Capacity in change rooms should be limited.
  • Activities should be planned that support physical distancing and limit the use of shared equipment.
  • Shared equipment should be disinfected between cohort use. If equipment (e.g. balls) are difficult to disinfect, they should be quarantined for three days before being used by another cohort.
  • Students should practice hand hygiene before and after participating in physical activity and equipment uses.
Music education
  • Cancel in-person choir and band practices and performances due to the higher level of risk of these activities.
  • If deemed necessary:
  • Ensure that each person singing or playing instrument is separated from every other person by plexiglass or another impermeable barrier.
  • Ensure instruments are not being shared between individuals.
  • Consider in-person teaching and instruction with lower risk creative performance opportunities (e.g. instruction in larger spaces, restricting the type of instrument in a group setting).
  • Avoid sharing of instruments between students.
  • Refer to the Ontario Music Educators Association
  • Additional guidance on music education will likely be available as more scientific evidence on safer ways to learn music is available.
Access to other campus amenities (e.g. gyms, lounges, seating areas)
  • Keep current and comply with provincial and City of Toronto COVID-19 emergency orders, directives and by-laws related to specific amenities.
  • Comply with requirements for amenities (e.g. green space, sports fields, recreation centres).
  • If access is provided, ensure that the IPAC measures outlined above (e.g. physical distancing, environmental cleaning and disinfection) are followed, and appropriate signs, barriers, and markings are used.
  • Suspend all non-essential visitors to the facility.
  • Cancel non-essential group activities and outings that require close contact between individuals.
  • Stagger the use of the kitchen (e.g. one person at a time), and clean and disinfect after each use.
  • Create a schedule for residents to use common spaces in shifts, and to maintain physical distancing.
  • Reconfigure common spaces so seating ensures physical distancing.
Dormitories/residences
  • Impose restrictions on living arrangements based on physical distancing, as well as for washrooms and common living spaces such as kitchenettes.
  • Limit student moves into and/or between rooms and residences. If moving is absolutely necessary, put in place precautionary measures and IPAC measures outlined above.
  • Ensure signs (see above) are posted in visible areas throughout dormitories/residences.
  • Only residents and essential staff and visitors should be permitted entry into the dormitories.
  • Set aside designated dormitories/private rooms and securing hotel rooms to isolate and quarantine COVID-19 positive students or students with COVID-19 symptoms.
  • Support students who are quarantined or self-isolating:
  • Ensure policies, procedures, and programming are in place to allow for continued delivery of services and supports (e.g. mental health supports), and/or learning and provide support and re-assurance.
  • Ensure self-isolating students can receive deliveries of essential goods, like medications and groceries/meals, at their unit door so they can avoid non-essential trips outside.
  • Ensure students are treated with respect, fairness and compassion with a focus on dignity and privacy protection.
  • For more information on isolating students in residence who become ill with symptoms of COVID-19, and other strategies to reduce the risk of COVID-10 transmission refer to:
  • Toronto Public Health Pandemic Plan – A Planning Guide for Colleges and Universities
  • Toronto Public Health COVID-19 Guidance for Group Homes and Congregate Settings
  • Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 Guidance: Congregate Living for Vulnerable Populations
  • Managing COVID-19 Outbreaks in Congregate Living Settings
  • Cohorting in Outbreaks in Congregate Living Settings
Suspend large student/staff gatherings
  • Keep current and comply with provincial and City of Toronto emergency orders, directives and bylaws related to specific amenities.
  • Limit/discourage large gatherings/assemblies. Consider virtual options instead.
  • Install structural barriers and cordon off areas to restrict access to closed areas.
  • Limit group transport (e.g. on buses) and encourage active forms of travel or private transportation when possible. Should transport by bus is necessary, consider establishing safe transportation protocols. For more information, review Transport Canada’s Federal Guidance for Institution Bus Operations.
  • Assign staff to dedicated work areas as much as possible and discourage staff from sharing phones, desks and other tools and equipment. Consider using a virtual staff room.
Libraries, study spaces, and other communal spaces
  • Limit on-site non-essential library services, such as computer access and contactless book pickup and drop-off.
  • Cordon off / limit access to study spaces and reconfigure to discourage students from remaining on campus unnecessarily.
  • Do not allow patrons to handle books or materials on shelves.
  • If it is necessary to handle or re-circulate materials or books (e.g. returned books), ensure they are cleaned and disinfected if they need to be moved or used within three days. Otherwise, returned items should be left in the designated areas for a minimum of three days before they are used or moved. After three days, the virus does not survive on paper and plastic surfaces.
  • Ensure adherence to public health measures, including those listed above on physical distancing, capacity, and hygiene procedures (e.g. disinfecting returns and high-touch areas like computers, study spaces).
Water fountains and bottle filling stations
  • Water fountains and bottle filling stations can be used provided they are cleaned and disinfected twice per day, or more often, if needed.
  • Fill water bottles rather than drinking directly from the mouthpiece of water fountains.
  • Post signs near water fountains emphasizing public health measures.
International students and staff
  • Consult relevant provincial and/or federal authorities to discuss and plan for safely bringing international students and staff on campus.
  • Keep current and comply with any additional requirements from the Public Health Agency of Canada for students (e.g. testing).
  • Notify (ahead of time) all travellers returning from outside Canada about the mandatory 14 self-isolation order, and encourage students to review the COVID-19 Travelled Recently web page.
  • If possible, ensure private transportation for all international students and staff from the airport, and house them in designated hotel rooms and/or dormitories, with a separate bathroom for each student, for the 14 day quarantine period. During this period, arrange for daily check-ins as well as the provision of all meals and other necessities. In addition, ensure that health care is available / provided (e.g. with coverage through the institution’s health insurance plan for foreign students).
    • If it is not feasible to privately transport, house and quarantine all international students, then:
      • For students staying off-campus, instruct them to arrange for their own private transportation (i.e. not public transportation), and to not come to the campus until they have completed their 14 day period of self-isolation.
      • For students staying in dormitories, if they are unable to make alternative arrangements to self-isolate off-campus, instruct them to arrange for their own private transportation (i.e. not public transportation), and to ensure they are self-isolating in designated dorms/rooms upon arrival.
    • Ensure students have the appropriate information and supports (e.g. mental health supports, virtual student engagement opportunities, daily physical).
    • Ensure policies and protocols to address possible discrimination and stigma associated with COVID19.
    • To request access to on-site community mobile COVID-19 testing, see section above.
Campus clubs and non-profits
  • Limit non-essential on-site clubs, organizations, and services as much as possible. Consider alternative ways to facilitate services other than in-person attendance.
Communities with special needs
  • Consider and plan for students and staff with special needs (e.g. accessible COVID-10 information and resources for members of the deaf and hard of hearing community, or the low vision, visually impaired and blind community).
Mental health and well-being
  • Implement a tiered approach for mental health supports that will capture all students and staff and target intensive help to those who have been most affected by the COVID-19 outbreak.
  • Promote resources to support the needs of students and families.
Workplace health and safety

More Information

For more information, visit our website at www.toronto.ca/COVID19 or call us at 416-338-7600.

Other Resources


COVID-19 Prevention Checklist for Post-Secondary Institutions

This is a checklist of recommended guidelines, with examples, to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in post-secondary institutions. It is a companion document to the Toronto Public Health (TPH) COVID-19 Guidance for Post-Secondary Institutions and institutions should review that document for more detailed information on how to keep institutions safe.

Updated information about COVID-19 can be found in Toronto Public Health’s COVID-19 Fact Sheet.

Maintain a Healthy Environment

A. Support and encourage hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette
  • Educate staff and students on proper hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette:
  • Wash your hands with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer (70 – 90% alcohol), provided hands are not visibly soiled. Remind staff and students to avoid touching their face, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue.
  • 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.
  • Post hand hygiene signs in clearly visible areas.
  • Provide alcohol-based hand sanitizer (70-90% alcohol concentration) in dispensers near entrances, inside classrooms, at service counters, and near other high touch locations for staff, student and visitor use.
B. Practice physical distancing
  • Ensure that staff, students, and other visitors can maintain Physical distancing:
  • Ensure that the total number of students permitted in each instructional space, at any one time, does not exceed limit for the current provincial stage of re-opening, and that it is limited to the number that can maintain a physical distance of at least two metres/six feet from every other person in the space.
  • Limit the number of participants in each group attending classes/activities and minimize or limit the mixing of participants between groups.
  • Stagger classes/activity times to promote proper physical distancing.
  • Designate and clearly mark specific, separate entrances and exits, and only permit entry and exit through these doors.
  • Ensure that there are systems in place to manage capacity in indoor spaces (e.g. position an employee at key entrances to control visitor entry and exit. Once the maximum number of people is reached, allow one person in for every person that leaves.)
  • Post signs directing people to stay only within specified area(s) and to refrain from lingering.
  • Encourage the use of stairs, when possible. Where required, elevator use should be limited to maintain a safe distance, and encourage the use of masks if using an elevator.
  • Discourage unnecessary group gatherings on the premises.
  • Avoid activities involving singing, shouting or speaking loudly indoors.
  • Provide visible markings and visual cues by placing markers such as tape, safety cones/pylons or painted lines every two metres/six feet.
  • Implement structural barriers and cordon off areas to restrict access to closed areas.
  • Develop and post clear traffic flow signs to minimize unnecessary interactions.
C. Face masks and coverings
D. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
  • Consult Occupational Health and Safety staff and develop policies and protocols for the use of PPE for students and staff (e.g. use of googles/face shield /gloves when cleaning or during student placements off-campus), both on campus and during off–campus placements.
  • Train students and staff on the proper use of PPE. Refer to Public Health Ontario resources or Public Services Health and Safety Association.
  • Recommend, as appropriate, a medical grade mask if teaching in a classroom where students are not masked and physical distancing cannot be maintained to allow for two-way protection for the staff.
  • Wear a face shield and/or goggles, as needed, in addition to and not in place of a mask. See Ministry of Labour guidelines.
  • Staff are wearing a surgical mask and eye protection (e.g. goggles, face shield) when:
  • Cleaning and disinfecting blood or bodily fluid spills if there is a risk of splashing or droplets.
  • Caring for a sick individual or someone showing symptoms of illness.
E. Provide education
F. Develop/update infection prevention and control (IPAC) policies and procedures
  • Develop and/or update administrative and IPAC policies and procedures to include mitigation measures to help reduce the spread of COVID-19.
  • Ensure COVID-19-related policies and procedures address the following topics:
    • Screening
    • Attendance management and reporting, including follow-up with staff to determine reasons for unplanned absence
    • Cohorting staff and students, including the use of supply teachers
    • Guests/volunteers in institution setting
    • Transportation of ill students
    • Physical distancing
    • Hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette
    • Mask requirements for students and staff
    • Isolation/exclusion of ill staff and students
    • Return to work/learn for symptomatic staff and students
    • Enhanced environmental cleaning and disinfection
    • Cleaning and disinfection of toys, equipment and other shared materials
    • Food safety practices
    • Use of PPE
    • Communication plans, including platforms, to communicate with stakeholders
  • Management of cases and outbreaks of COVID-19, with the guidance of Toronto Public Health (TPH) and the provincial Ministry of Health, including:
    • Management of symptomatic staff and students; including testing and those who choose not to be tested.
    • Management of cohorts exposed to a symptomatic/confirmed case of COVID-19.
  • Develop an attendance policy for staff to ensure staff do not come to work sick. For more information, refer to TPHs COVID-19 Guidance for Workplaces and Businesses.
  • Consider promoting Health Canada’s COVID Alert app with students, staff and visitors.
G. Train staff
  • Ensure that all institution staff are aware of the signs and symptoms of COVID-19.
  • Train staff to ensure they are aware of and can implement COVID-19 related policies and procedures.
  • Train staff on proper use of PPE. Refer to Public Health Ontario resources or the Public Services Health and Safety Association.
  • Encourage staff 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.
H. Screen staff and students for COVID-19 symptoms
  • Have all staff and students complete a COVID-19 symptom screening questionnaire (strongly recommended) before coming on campus every day, and to stay home if they answer YES to any of the questions.
  • Develop an attendance policy, including criteria for return to work, for staff and students, to ensure they do not come to work sick.
  • Refer to Toronto Public Health’s COVID-19 Guidance for Workplaces and Businesses and Health and Safety Guidance during COVID-19 for Employers of Office Settings, as applicable.
  • Institute a screening process for individuals at each of your buildings (e.g. using a designated area outside the main entrances as screening stations or may be IT-based self-assessments that can be taken before travelling to campus). Active screening is preferred if possible.
  • Post signs in visible areas which clearly explains the screening process and the rules and conditions for entry.
  • Ensure that the screening station allows for a minimum of two metres/six feet distance between staff conducting the screening and the individual being screened.
  • Alternatively, ensure that a protective barrier (e.g. plexiglass) can be equipped around the screening station.
  • Ensure that staff conducting the screening wear a mask and other PPE, if required, if physical distancing or a barrier is not possible,
  • Make alcohol-based (70-90% alcohol concentration) hand sanitizer available at the screening stations for participants who have answered NO to all questions for use prior to entry into the facility.
  • Post signs at all entrances instructing students, parents, staff and others not to enter the institution if they are sick.
  • No individuals who answer YES to any of the symptom screening questionnaire questions are permitted to enter.
    • All individuals who answer YES to any of the screening questions are directed to this webpage to learn what to do next.
I. Enhance attendance reporting practices for staff, student and visitors
  • Ensure contact information is collected for all staff, students and visitors who use buildings (e.g. through sign in upon entry and sign out upon exit from designated areas of campus, as feasible, or through electronic means for collecting contact and use records).
    • Maintain daily attendance records of all staff, students, and visitors (including maintenance workers) entering the campus, including comprehensive attendance reporting of sick and well staff and students. Records should include: name, contact information, date, time of arrival/departure, reason for visit, rooms/areas visited, completion of screening, etc.
    • Ensure attendance records are available on-site at all times, and may be required by public health for contact tracing purposes should there be a case of COVID-19 linked to the campus.
    • Ensure privacy and confidentiality of personal information, including safely storing and disposing of any records, as well as what and to whom you may need to communicate.
    • Update attendance records when any staff are absent, including reasons for any unplanned absences, and noting symptoms (e.g. fever, sore throat, cough) to determine if absence is due to illness.
    • Retain records for at least one month.
  • Monitor attendance records for patterns or trends (e.g. students and staff in the same group or cohort absent at the same time or over the course of a few days).
  • Do not be permitted non-essential visitors to enter the campus.
J. Ill and confirmed COVID-19 positive students and staff
  • Send staff, students, and others (e.g. delivery or maintenance personnel) who become ill while on campus home / to dormitory immediately.
  • Call 911 if they are very ill and require urgent care.
  • Send them home immediately, if they do not require urgent care, and direct them to this webpage to learn what to do next, including getting tested. Note this information in attendance records.
  • Immediately separate ill or confirmed COVID-19 positive students and staff from others in a designated room if they cannot go home, and supervise them until they can go home / to their dormitories.
  • Ensure physical distancing can be maintained in rooms/area.
  • Ask individuals in these rooms to wear masks (if tolerated)
  • Ensure, if possible, that the designated room has a handwashing sink. If this is not possible, ensure that alcohol-based (70-90% alcohol concentration) hand sanitizer is widely available in these areas.
  • Provide tissues to the ill student to help support respiratory etiquette.
  • Ensure these individuals have access to designated washrooms separate from other staff/students.
  • Open outside doors and windows to increase air circulation in the area.
  • Frequently clean and disinfect (see below for more information) the area after the individual with symptoms has been sent home.
  • Ensure staff attending to / supervising the ill student maintain physical distancing as best as possible and wear PPE, including surgical mask.
  • Clean and disinfect the area immediately after the student with symptoms has gone home.
  • Do not allow students/staff who are COVID-19 positive to return to the institution until they are cleared by public health (typically 14 days after symptoms started).
  • Allow students/staff who test negative to return to the institution if their symptoms are resolved, and once they are symptom free for 24 hours.
K. Report cases and outbreaks to Toronto Public Health
  • Immediately report the following to the TPH intake e-mail address: CovidSchools@toronto.ca (8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., Monday to Friday; 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., Saturday, Sunday and Statutory Holidays) or call 3-1-1 outside of these hours:
  • Clusters of suspected cases or increased student/staff absenteeism.
  • Cases of COVID-19 among staff or students that are laboratory-confirmed or probable (i.e. symptoms occurring among a staff or student who has been exposed to a person with confirmed COVID-19).
  • Include the following information in your e-mail:
    • Name of institution and address
    • Name of institution’s contact name, phone number and email
    • Name of ill staff/student
    • Contact information for staff/student (phone number, address, and, if possible, date of birth)
    • Onset date of symptoms
    • Last day at the institution
    • Laboratory confirmed Y/N
    • Name of who reported the case to the institutions
    • Any other reports of ill staff or students.
  • Notify TPH If you are aware of confirmed COVID-19 positive case(s) and TPH has not contacted you yet, so you can and determine next steps you can take. Email TPH intake at: CovidSchools@toronto.ca during the hours of 8:00 am to 6:00pm, Monday to Friday, (8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., Saturday, Sunday and Statutory holidays) or call 3-1-1 outside of the hours.
  • Maintain confidentiality of staff’s/student’s personal health information, unless informed otherwise by TPH, if you are aware that a resident has COVID-19 or is a close contact of a person with COVID-19.
  • Have staff / students contact Telehealth at 1-866-797-0000 or have them call their health care providers if their symptoms are worsening and they are concerned.
  • Allow students or staff who have symptoms of COVID-19 and test negative to return to activities 24 hours after their symptoms resolve, as long as they are not required to self-isolate for other reasons (e.g. recent travel or being a close contact of someone who had COVID-19).
L. On-site COVID-19 testing
  • Request access to on-site community mobile COVID-19 testing by emailing your request to Ontario Health Agency Toronto Region at: TRTestingIntake@tc.lhins.on.ca. They may require health information and related details that pertain directly to the organization or agency making the request. The following information should be included in your request:
  • Location for mobile testing
  • Total number of units or areas
  • Number of residents to be tested
  • Number of staff to be tested (if applicable).
M. Maintain heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems
  • Ensure the HVAC system(s) are adequately maintained.
  • Use the highest efficiency filters, where provided, that are compatible with the HVAC system.
  • Increase air-exchanges if possible.
  • Ensure that rooms provided with ceiling fans have an upward airflow rotation.
  • Keep areas near HVAC inlets and outlets clear.
  • Arrange seating away from areas with high airflow (i.e. not in front of air vents).
  • Position fans, if used, to provide an upward movement of air.
  • Make plans for days when the institution may be hot without air conditioning. Consider holding classes outdoors where ventilation is improved.
N. Implement enhanced environmental cleaning and disinfection practices
  • Assign dedicated facility staff to complete environmental cleaning and disinfection duties.
  • Ensure frequent cleaning and disinfecting of high-touch surfaces and shared objects (e.g. doorknobs, water fountain knobs, light switches, toilet and faucet handles, electronic devices, tabletops) at least twice a day and when visibly dirty. If the same student is using the chair and desk all day it can be cleaned once at the end of the day.
  • Review Public Health Ontario’s Cleaning and Disinfection for Public Settings fact sheet.
  • Refer to Health Canada’s list of hard surface disinfectants and hand sanitzers for use against coronavirus (COVID-19) for approved products.
  • Clean and disinfect individual items handled by more than one individual such as electronic devices, sporting equipment, balls and mats after each use. If items are difficult to disinfect consider not using them, or placing in quarantine for a minimum of three days until they can be used again.
  • Clean and disinfect the area used by an individual suspect of having COVID-19. This includes all surfaces within two metres/six feet of the ill person. Remove all items that cannot be cleaned (paper, books, etc.) and store them in a sealed container for a minimum of three days.
  • Educate facility staff on how to use cleaning agents and disinfectants, and ensure:
  • Required disinfectant contact times are followed (i.e. amount of time that the product will need to remain wet on a surface to achieve disinfection).
  • Use of safety precautions and required PPE.
  • Directions for where and how to securely store cleaning and disinfectant supplies.
  • Clean and disinfect staff/student washrooms and other areas as necessary throughout the day to maintain sanitation.
  • Provide waste receptacles lined with a plastic bag, and empty as often as necessary.
  • Monitor and clean the parking lot and institution outdoor grounds daily and as necessary (e.g. for discarded gloves, masks, litter).

Providing Services to Students and Staff

A. Classrooms/labs
  • Implement physical distancing and other IPAC measures outlined above.
  • Open outside doors and windows, if possible, to increase air circulation in the area.
  • Assign equipment/supplies to each student, as feasible, and mark with their names to reduce the sharing of equipment/supplies.
  • Ensure shared equipment and supplies are cleaned and disinfected between each use.
  • Remind students not to share personal items.
B. On campus dining/restaurants
  • Keep current and comply with provincial orders and City of Toronto directives and by-laws related to dining/food establishments related to COVID-19.
  • Configure communal dining area in cafeterias/dining rooms so that patrons seated at different tables are separated by:
  • a distance of at least two metres, or
  • plexiglass or some other impermeable barrier
  • Consider staggering mealtimes, and clean and disinfect surfaces between uses or serve residents individual meals in their rooms.
  • Remove shared food containers/utensils from dining areas (e.g. pitchers of water, salt and pepper shakers).
  • Use pre-packaged items and dispense snacks directly to students.
  • In-house food services that are preparing food for room service should use single-use containers and cutlery.
  • For more information, refer to:
    • TPHs COVID-19 Guidance for Food Premises
    • COVID-19 Guidance for Food Premises: Best Practices Summary Sheet, Ontario Ministry of Health
    • Restaurant and food services health and safety during COVID-19, Ontario Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development
    • COVID-19 Tips: Restaurants and Food Services, Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety
C. Student placements and co-operative education
  • Limit unnecessary student placements, and movement between facilities/locations.
  • Consider alternative ways to facilitate learning (e.g. virtual) other than in-person attendance,
  • Keep records of visits to off-campus facilities (e.g. date and time of visit, facility visited, areas accessed) by students.
D. Health and physical education / organized sports
  • Keep current and comply with provincial orders, City of Toronto directives and by-laws, as well as Reopening Ontario sector-specific guidance related to indoor and outdoor organized sports.
  • Follow public health advice, including those above, as well as individual sport associations’ recommendations, as appropriate.
  • Offer classes in outdoors.
  • Gymnasiums should only be used when physical distancing measures can be followed.
  • Capacity in change rooms should be limited.
  • Activities should be planned that support physical distancing and limit the use of shared equipment.
  • Shared equipment should be disinfected between cohort uses. If equipment (e.g. balls) are difficult to disinfect, they should be quarantined for three days before being used by another cohort.
  • Remind students to practice hand hygiene before and after participating in physical activity and equipment uses.
E. Music education
  • Cancel or post-pone in-person choir and band practices and performances due to the higher level of risk of these activities. If deemed necessary:
  • Ensure that each person singing or playing instrument is separated from every other person by plexiglass or another impermeable barrier, and a two metre distance must be maintained for teaching and instruction (no exceptions).
  • If there is not plexiglass or an impermeable barrier, cancel activities for the immediate future. Virtual options can continue.
  • Live performances are to be suspended at this time.
  • Ensure students wear a mask and they maintain a physical distance without an impermeable barrier, if the ensemble includes non-wind instruments (i.e. guitar, drums). lf they are humming or singing while playing, ensure students are separated by plexiglass or another impermeable barrier, a two metre distance must be maintained for teaching and instruction (no exceptions).
  • Ensure instruments are not being shared between individuals.
  • Consider in-person teaching and instruction with lower risk creative performance. opportunities (e.g. instruction in larger spaces, restricting the type of instrument in a group setting).
  • Avoid sharing of instruments between students.
  • Refer to the Ontario Music Educators Association
  • Additional guidance on music education will likely be available as more scientific evidence on safer ways to learn music is available.
F. Access to other campus amenities (e.g. gyms, lounges, seating areas)
  • Keep current and comply with provincial and City of Toronto COVID-19 emergency orders, directives and by-laws related to specific amenities.
  • Comply with requirements for amenities (e.g. green space, sports fields, recreation centres).
  • Ensure that the IPAC measures outlined above (e.g. physical distancing, environmental cleaning and disinfection) are followed, and appropriate signs, barriers, and markings are used if access to campus amenities is provided,
  • Suspend all non-essential visitors to the facility.
  • Cancel non-essential group activities and outings that require close contact between individuals.
  • Stagger the use of the kitchen (e.g. one person at a time), and clean and disinfect after each use.
  • Create a schedule for residents to use common spaces in shifts, and to maintain physical distancing.
  • Reconfigure common spaces so seating ensures physical distancing.
G. Dormitories/residences
  • Impose restrictions on living arrangements based on physical distancing, as well as for washrooms and common living spaces such as kitchenettes.
  • Limit student moves into and/or between rooms and residences. If moving is absolutely necessary, put in place precautionary measures and IPAC measures outlined above.
  • Ensure signs (see above) are posted in visible areas throughout dormitories/residences.
  • Only permit entry into the dormitories to residents and essential staff and visitors.
  • Set aside designated dormitories/private rooms and securing hotel rooms to isolate and quarantine COVID-19 positive students or students with COVID-19 symptoms.
  • Support students who are quarantined or self-isolating:
  • Ensure policies, procedures, and programming are in place to allow for continued delivery of services and supports (e.g. mental health supports), and/or learning and provide support and re-assurance.
  • Ensure self-isolating students can receive deliveries of essential goods, like medications and groceries/meals, at their unit door so they can avoid non-essential trips outside.
  • Ensure students are treated with respect, fairness and compassion with a focus on dignity and privacy protection.
  • Refer to the following additional information on isolating students in residence who become ill with symptoms of COVID-19, and other strategies to reduce the risk of COVID-10 transmission:
H. Suspend large student/staff gatherings
  • Keep current and comply with provincial and City of Toronto emergency orders, directives and bylaws related to specific amenities.
  • Limit/discourage large gatherings/assemblies. Consider virtual options instead.
  • Install structural barriers and cordon off areas to restrict access to closed areas.
  • Limit group transport (e.g. on buses) and encourage active forms of travel or private transportation when possible. Should transport by bus is necessary, consider establishing safe transportation protocols. For more information, review Transport Canada’s Federal Guidance for Institution Bus Operations.
  • Assign staff to dedicated work areas as much as possible and discourage staff from sharing phones, desks and other tools and equipment. Consider using a virtual staff room.
I. Libraries, study spaces, and other communal spaces
  • Limit on-site non-essential library services, such as computer access and contactless book pickup and drop-off.
  • Cordon off / limit access to study spaces and reconfigure to discourage students from remaining on campus unnecessarily.
  • Do not allow patrons to handle books or materials on shelves.
  • Ensure that handled and/or re-circulated materials or books (e.g. returned books) are cleaned and disinfected if they need to be moved or used within three days. Otherwise, leave returned items in a designated areas for a minimum of three days before they are used or moved.
  • Ensure adherence to public health measures, including those listed above on physical distancing, capacity, and hygiene procedures (e.g. disinfecting returns and high-touch areas like computers, study spaces).
J. Water fountains and bottle filling stations
  • Use water fountains and bottle filling stations only if they are cleaned and disinfected twice per day, or more often, if needed.
  • Remind / encourage students and staff to fill water bottles rather than drinking directly from the mouthpiece of water fountains.
  • Post signs near water fountains emphasizing public health measures.
K. International students and staff
  • Consult relevant provincial and/or federal authorities to discuss and plan for safely bringing international students and staff on campus.
  • Keep current and comply with any additional requirements from the Public Health Agency of Canada for students (e.g. testing).
  • Notify (ahead of time) all travellers returning from outside Canada about the mandatory 14 self-isolation order, and encourage students to review the COVID-19 Travel Advice web page.
  • Ensure private transportation for all international students and staff, if possible, from the airport, and house them in designated hotel rooms and/or dormitories, with a separate bathroom for each student, for the 14 day quarantine period.
  • Arrange for daily check-ins as well as the provision of all meals and other necessities during the quarantine In addition, ensure that health care is available / provided (e.g. with coverage through the institution’s health insurance plan for foreign students).
  • If it is not feasible to privately transport, house and quarantine all international students, then:
    • Instruct all students staying off-campus to arrange for their own private transportation (i.e. not use public transportation), and to not come to the campus until they have completed their 14 day period of self-isolation.
    • Encourage students staying in dormitories to make alternative arrangements to self-isolate off-campus, instruct them to arrange for their own private transportation (i.e. not public transportation), and ensure they are self-isolating in designated dorms/rooms upon arrival.
  • Ensure students have the appropriate information and supports (e.g. mental health supports, virtual student engagement opportunities, daily physical).
  • Ensure policies and protocols are in place to address possible discrimination and stigma associated with COVID-19.
L. Campus clubs and non-profits
  • Limit non-essential on-site clubs, organizations, and services as much as possible. Consider alternative ways to facilitate services other than in-person attendance.
M. Communities with special needs
  • Consider and plan for students and staff with special needs (e.g. accessible COVID-10 information and resources for members of the deaf and hard of hearing community, or the low vision, visually impaired and blind community).
N. Mental health and well-being
  • Implement a tiered approach for mental health supports that will capture all students and staff and target intensive help to those who have been most affected by the COVID-19 outbreak.
  • Promote resources to support the needs of students and families.
O. Workplace health and safety

COVID-19 Resources for Post-Secondary Schools

Below are links to resources that may be helpful for school administrators and students in postsecondary schools. Please check the links often, as the information is updated on a regular basis. You can find more information and public health guidance for schools at: toronto.ca/COVID19SchoolInfo.

Resource Type & Source Resource Link Target Audience
TPH COVID-19 Contact List for Schools:
Toronto Public Health TPH COVID-19 Contact List for Schools Post-secondary school staff and admin
TPH COVID-19 Guidance Document:
Toronto Public Health TPH COVID-19 Guidance for Post-Secondary Institutions Post-secondary school staff and admin
Fact Sheets/Information Sheets/Apps:
Toronto Public Health COVID-19 Fact Sheet Post-secondary school staff and admin
Public Health Ontario Cleaning and Disinfection for Public Settings Fact Sheet Post-secondary school staff and admin
Public Health Ontario You were tested for COVID-19: What you should know Post-secondary school staff and admin
Government of Canada COVID Alert app Post-secondary school staff and admin
Screening Poster/Questionnaire:
Toronto Public Health Screening Questionnaire for Schools  Students and Staff
Toronto Public Health Screening Poster for Schools Students and Staff
Face Coverings/Masks:
City of Toronto How to wear a cloth mask Post-secondary school staff, students and admin
City of Toronto (video) Proper use of a cloth face mask Post-secondary school staff, students and admin
City of Toronto (video) 5 Things to remember about face masks and coverings Post-secondary school staff, students and admin
City of Toronto (video) Choosing the right face mask or covering Post-secondary school staff, students and admin
Toronto Public Health How to safely wear a cloth mask or face covering Post-secondary school staff, students and admin
Posters/Infographics:
City of Toronto Physical Distancing Post-secondary school staff and admin
City of Toronto Protect Yourself Post-secondary school staff and admin
City of Toronto Cover your Cough Post-secondary school staff and admin
City of Toronto Water Filling Station Post-secondary school staff and admin
Toronto Public Health Wash your Hands Post-secondary school staff and admin
Toronto Public Health Hand Washing Poster Post-secondary school staff and admin
Toronto Public Health Hand Sanitizing Poster Post-secondary school staff and admin
Toronto Public Health Cover Your Cough Poster Post-secondary school staff and admin
Toronto Public Health Symptoms of COVID-19 Post-secondary school staff and admin
Toronto Public Health How the Virus can Spread Post-secondary school staff and admin
Mental Health:
Toronto Public Health COVID-19 Mental Health Resources Students and Staff
Toronto Public Health COVID-19 Mental Health-General Coping and Specific Stressors Students and Staff
Toronto Public Health Taking Care of Your Mental Health and Well-Being infographic Students and Staff
Toronto Public Health Feelings of Stress and Anxiety are Normal during COVID-19 infographic Students and Staff
Government of Ontario Mental Health, Wellness and Addictions Support Students and Staff

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 www.toronto.ca/COVID19.

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.