Last updated: May 11, 2022 at 1:00 p.m.

The following recommendations are intended to help JK to Grade 12 schools and school boards reduce the spread of COVID-19. They are based on provincial Ministry of Education guidelines, COVID-19: health and safety measures at schools.

For publicly-funded schools (i.e. Toronto District School Board (TDSB), Toronto Catholic District School Board (TCDSB), CS Viamonde, and CS Mon Avenir, where there is a difference between this guidance document and the school board’s internal policies and procedures, the school board’s plan should take precedence.

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

Update to Guidance

The province of Ontario has released updated operational guidance for schools for the Omicron variant. Toronto Public Health’s guidance for schools is consistent with the guidance provided by the Ministry of Education and the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health.

We are currently seeing an increase in COVID-19 activity in Toronto , Toronto Public Health continues to recommend the following tips to reduce the spread of COVID-19. The guidance document has been updated to include:

  • To stay home if feeling unwell.
  • Wearing a well-fitted, high-quality mask in indoor public settings to protect ourselves and others from COVID-19 infection especially:
    • If individuals are at higher risk of getting very sick from COVID-19.
    • If individuals live, work or spend time with someone who is at higher risk of COVID-19, such as someone who has a weak immune system or is a senior.
    • If individuals are in a crowded indoor setting with poor ventilation.
  • Public Health measures still in place include: daily symptom screening, encouraging COVID-19 vaccinations for those who are eligible including boosters, hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette, ventilation and cleaning and disinfection practices.

Recommendations for schools to reduce the spread of COVID-19

Staff, students, and visitors to complete screening for COVID-19 everyday

  • Students, Staff and Visitors should be given a screening questionnaire to complete each day before arriving at school or use the provincial school screening tool.
  • Students, Staff and Visitors should stay home if feeling unwell.

Enhance attendance reporting practices for staff, student and visitors

Use of face masks

  • In alignment with community masking requirements, the Ministry of Education is no longer requiring masks for students and staff in schools, school board offices and on student transportation.
  • Toronto Public Health (TPH) recommends wearing a well-fitted, high-quality mask in indoor public settings to protect ourselves and others from COVID-19 infection especially:
    • If individuals are at higher risk of getting very sick from COVID-19.
    • If individuals live, work or spend time with someone who is at higher risk of COVID-19, such as someone who has a weak immune system or is a senior.
    • If individuals are in a crowded indoor setting with poor ventilation.
  • As some students/staff may choose to or be required (under certain circumstances) to continue to wear masks, school boards can continue to make masks available.
  • Schools and board can continue to encourage mask use especially indoors and/or in crowded settings and/or in areas with poor ventilation, while respecting individual choices regarding masks based on one’s own risk assessment.
  • Students/staff may choose to continue to wear masks at times, or consistently for the remainder of the school year.
  • School boards and schools are encourage to promote respectful, welcoming and inclusive practices and communications within their school communities.
  • For those who continue to wear masks, schools should ensure they are given the opportunity for mask breaks in the school day. Mask breaks can occur outdoors or indoors if physical distancing is possible.
  • Students/staff may still be required to wear a mask in school, for example, if they are a close contact of a positive case or have recently travelled internationally and are returning to school. Masks will also be required for some health services such as vaccine clinics held in schools, and recommended if someone develops symptoms while at school. See page 2 of the TPH screening questionnaire for more information and our TPH website Face Masks and Respirators
  • Schools and school boards should be prepared that there may be a need to resume a requirement for mask wearing if a new variant of concern emerges, or potentially during the winter months when COVID and other respiratory viruses are likely to circulate again.

Ensure protocols are in place for personal protective equipment for staff

  • Masks and eye protection will no longer be required for staff in schools, school board offices and on student transportation as per guidance from the Ministry of Education. However, staff may continue to choose to wear masks and eye protection based on their own personal risk assessment. School boards and schools are encourage to promote respectful, welcoming and inclusive practices for those who continue to do so.
  • Staff should consult with their Occupational Health and Safety lead on the circumstances when Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is required. In these situations, instructions on how to wear PPE should be provide.
  • The existing requirement for staff who perform aerosol generating medical procedures (AGMP) to wear a fitted N95 mask does not change. Where staff are required to perform an Aerosol Generating Medical Procedure (AGMP) or required to be in the same room when an AGMP is being performed, N95 respirators (fit tested) will continue to be provided.

Support and encourage proper 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 per cent alcohol concentration), 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. Dispose of tissue immediately after use in a garbage receptacle with lined plastic bags.
  • 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.
  • Provide alcohol-based hand sanitizer (70-90% alcohol concentration) in dispensers near entrances, service counters and other high touch locations for staff, student and visitor use. Monitor and refill as needed.
  • Schools must ensure that staff /students have the ability to practice hand hygiene when needed:
    • Incorporate hygiene into breaks/recess, between school activities and before and after snacks and lunchtime/meals.

Maintain heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems

  • Increase the introduction and circulation of outdoor air by maximizing the outdoor air ratio of the HVAC system settings, or by opening windows and doors, where possible, or using air filtration or purifiers. However, do not open windows and doors if doing so poses a safety risk to school staff and students.
  • See the Ministry of Education COVID-19: health and safety measures at schools | ontario.ca.
  • 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).
  • Increase air-exchanges if possible.
  • Rooms where ceiling fans are used should have an upward airflow rotation.
  • Schools without HVAC systems should increase ventilation by opening windows (when possible) and classroom doors.
  • If portable fans are used, limit the blowing of air across people and surfaces by positioning them to provide an upward movement of air.
  • During the winter months when the temperatures are cold, consider opening windows or doors when students are not in the classroom, or for very brief periods every hour.
  • Detailed school ventilation guidance and checklists are provided in 2021:B14 School Ventilation.
  • School boards are expected to continue to work with qualified persons to plan for and continue to make upgrades to improve ventilation infrastructure, where required. Projects should be prioritized to meet appropriate minimum ventilation guidelines from the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) Standard 62.1-2019.
  • For more information please see our fact sheet COVID-19 Transmission, Aerosols and Ventilation. Or the Public Health Ontario Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) Systems in Buildings and COVID-19 fact sheet.

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.
  • Consider cleaning and disinfecting individual items handled by more than one individual such as electronic devices, toys, and mats after each use. The focus should be on regular hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette to reduce the risk of infection related to shared equipment, particularly when regular cleaning of shared objects is not feasible.

Encourage vaccination and develop a vaccination policy

  • COVID-19 Vaccination remains the best defense against COVID-19, including the Omicron variant, especially as public health measures are eased.
  • Schools are encouraged to develop a vaccination policy for staff and students, to encourage uptake of vaccinations. Even with COVID-19 variants of concern, like Omicron, vaccinations can prevent severe illness and are safe.
  • Encourage students and staff who are 12 years of age and older to get vaccinated with the COVID-19 vaccine including the booster. Encourage parents/guardians to have their children 5-11 years vaccinated with the COVID-19 vaccine. Promote COVID-19 vaccination. Read and share information about the vaccine and where to get vaccinated.
  • Post signs and share COVID-19 vaccine resources, available in multiple languages

Allow for shared materials and spaces

  • The use of shared supplies, equipment and materials is permitted. Hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette is encouraged to reduce the risk of infection related to shared equipment, when regular cleaning of shared objects is not possible.
  • Shared spaces (i.e. libraries, tech labs, theatres, music rooms etc.) are permitted and can be fully utilized without distancing. Distancing can be encouraged when possible.

Consider safe options for large gatherings

  • Masks are not mandatory, but consideration can be given to encouraging student/staff to wear masks during large indoor crowded gatherings.
  • Physical distancing is not mandatory, but can be considered where possible.
  • Outdoor large gatherings may be preferable to indoor ones.

Food practices for snacks meals/lunch time

  • Students may eat together.
  • Open windows and doors if possible, to allow for circulation.
  • Consider eating outdoors when weather permits.
  • Ensure students and staff perform proper hand hygiene before and after eating.
  • Use of the cafeteria is permitted.
  • Students who are required to wear a mask under certain circumstances (e.g. Close contact of someone who recently had COVID-19) can remove a mask to eat, and keep a physical distance from others as much as possible.

 

Maintain water fountains and bottle filling stations

  • Water fountains and bottle filling stations can be used and are recommended to be cleaned and disinfected daily, or more often if needed, for example if visibly soiled.
  • Filling water bottles rather than drinking directly from the mouthpiece of water fountains is encouraged.

Establish protocols for the safe transportation of students

  • Students and bus drivers should complete their COVID-19 screening at home before boarding the bus.
  • Practices to support adequate ventilation and air circulation (e.g. opening windows) should be implemented.
  • High touch surfaces (i.e. handrails, seatbacks) should be disinfected at least twice daily.

Other School Programs and Activities

  • Health and physical education
    • Students should practice hand hygiene before and after participating in physical activity and equipment uses.
    • High-touch surfaces should be cleaned twice daily or more often as required.
    • Consider optimizing ventilation for high intensity activities including opening windows if possible or being outdoors.
  • Outdoor playground structures:
    • Playground structures do not need to be cleaned or disinfected between uses. Hand hygiene should be practiced.
  • Music education
    • If wind instruments are shared, proper sanitization should occur between uses. The company where the instruments were sourced can be contacted to determine the most appropriate method of cleaning and sanitizing. Appropriate personal protective equipment should be worn when cleaning and disinfecting the instruments. This may include the use of eye protection, particularly for instruments that require the release of a spit valve.
    • Consider optimizing ventilation for singing and wind instruments including opening windows if possible, being outdoors or physical distancing as much as possible.
    • See COVID-19 instrument cleaning guidelines for more information
  • Before and after school programs

Ensure mental health and well-being are core elements of the school plan

  • Schools should implement a tiered approach for mental health supports that will capture all students and target intensive help to those who have been most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Schools and school boards should focus on understanding the needs of students as outlined in Ontario’s Learning Recovery Action Plan for Students and collaborating with partners including Toronto Public Health to deliver culturally relevant supports for student resilience and well-being through:
    • mentally healthy classrooms and learning environments
    • effective and responsive school mental health supports
    • connections to the broader provincial system of mental health care
  • Schools can support coping and resilience by creating opportunities for dialogue about mental health and well-being during the pandemic with staff, parents and students.
  • Use evidence informed curriculum resources to support knowledge development and awareness of strategies to enhance mental wellness, resilience, and coping with students and parent.
  • Schools can encourage help seeking and assist students and parents to navigate the appropriate mental health supports and services when support is required
  • Encourage school staff seeking mental health supports by promoting the use of Employee Assistance Programs.
  • Schools can collaborate with community agencies and stakeholders specializing in mental health to support mental health promotion and well-being initiatives in the school setting.
  • Review and share as appropriate Toronto Public Health resources such as:
  • See School Mental Health Ontario for comprehensive back to school resources.

Isolate students that become ill while at school

Symptomatic students

  • For detailed guidance for symptomatic, students, staff and their household contacts, see:
  • Students who become ill with symptoms while in school should be separated until they are picked-up and provided a mask. Notify parents/guardians or emergency contacts to pick up the ill student as soon as possible. They should not use public transportation, including the school bus. If it is an emergency, call 911.
  • If there is more than one ill individual who presents with symptoms, ideally they should be placed in separate designated rooms (if more than one room has been assigned for this purpose). If this is not possible, ensure the room is large enough so that students are kept more than two metres/six feet apart.
  • Provide tissues to the ill student to support respiratory etiquette. Soiled tissue should be disposed of immediately after use in plastic lined garbage receptacle.
  • Open outside doors and windows to increase air circulation in the area if this can be done so safely.
  • Staff supervising the ill student should maintain physical distancing as best as possible, and wear PPE as required.
  • Clean and disinfect the area immediately after the student with symptoms has been sent home.

More Information

Information changes frequently. Please visit our website at toronto.ca/COVID19 for updated information or call us at 416-338-7600.

Other Resources

Note: School-specific resources are available on our website at: toronto.ca/COVID19SchoolInfo

 

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

Screening Poster for Child Care, Day Camps and Schools

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

Also available in French.

Screening Questionnaire for Child Care, Day Camps and Schools

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

Also available in French.

COVID-19 symptom screening:

All individuals must complete a self-screening questionnaire before entering school/child care each day. Individuals with a chronic health issue that is medically diagnosed and unrelated to COVID-19 should look for new, different or worsening symptoms.

A) Does the individual or anyone in their household have 1 or more of these new or worsening symptoms, today, or in the last [5 or 10] days on the symptom screener?

  • Fever >37.8°C and/or chills
  • Cough
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Decrease of loss of taste or smell

B) Does the individual or anyone in their household have 2 or more of these new or worsening symptoms today, or in the last [5 or 10] days on the symptom screener?

  • Sore throat
  • Headache
  • Feeling very tired
  • Runny nose/nasal congestion
  • Muscle aches, joint pain
  • Nausea/vomiting and/or diarrhea

Individual has 1 or more symptoms from list A) and/or 2 or more symptoms from list B) in the last [5 or 10] days

  • The individual is presumed to be infected with COVID-19, must stay home and isolate, and not leave except to get tested or for a medical emergency.
  • If fully vaccinated, OR 11 years or younger, regardless of vaccination status:
    • They must self-isolate for at least 5 days from the day symptoms started and stay in isolation until their symptoms have been improving for 24 hours (or 48 hours if nausea/vomiting and/or diarrhea) and they do not have a fever, whichever is longer in duration.
    • Use test date if no symptoms
    • Once they come out of isolation they must continue to wear a mask when in public settings, including while exercising and are not to visit higher risk settings which include those who are immunocompromised, for 10 days from when symptoms started (use test date if no symptoms).
  • If 12 years of age or older AND not fully vaccinated, OR immune compromised
    • They must self-isolate for 10 days from the day symptoms started AND stay in isolation until their symptoms have been improving for 24 hours (or 48 hours if nausea/vomiting and/or diarrhea) and they do not have a fever, whichever is longer in duration.
    • Use test date if no symptoms
    • Once the immune compromised individual comes out of isolation they must continue to wear a mask when in public settings, including while exercising and are not to visit higher risk settings which include those who are immunocompromised, for 20 days from when symptoms started (use test date if no symptoms).
  • Household members of the symptomatic individual are not required to isolate if:
    • They are 17 years of age or younger and fully vaccinated OR
    • They are 18 years of age or older and have received their COVID-19 booster dose AND/OR
    • They have previously tested positive for COVID-19 in the past 90 days and completed their isolation
  • Household members the symptomatic individual are required to isolate if they don’t meet the above criteria.
    • If they are immunocompromised they must self-isolate for 10 days
    • Everyone else in the household must isolate for the duration of the household members isolation period
  • If household members develop symptoms, they should follow isolation directions for symptomatic individuals.

Individual has no symptoms from list A) and only one symptom from list B) in the last [5 or 10] days

  • The individual is advised to self-isolate until symptoms are improving for at least 24 hours (or 48 hours if nausea/vomiting and/or diarrhea).
  • If the individual has one symptom from 1B) AND was a close contact of someone in the household/community, they are presumed to be infected with COVID-19, must self-isolate and follow guidance under the section, “Individual has 1 or more symptoms from A) and/or 2 or more symptoms from B) in the last [5 or 10] days”
  • The individual should seek assessment from their health care provider if needed.
  • Their household members do not need to self-isolate.

Individual has symptoms and has an alternative medical diagnosis. Not tested for COVID-19.

  • If the symptoms are from a known health condition diagnosed by a healthcare provider (not related to COVID-19), the individual does not have to self-isolate.
  • If the symptoms are new, different, or worsening, the individual should stay home and self-isolate, and follow guidance under the section, “Individual has 1 or more symptoms from A) and/or 2 or more symptoms from B) in the last [5 or 10] days

Testing eligibility and availability:

  • Take-home PCR or Rapid Antigen Tests (RATs) may be available at school/child-care for individuals who develop symptoms.
    • If no testing is available, based on COVID-19 symptoms as outlined above in the section COVID-19 Symptom Screening, the individual is presumed to be infected with COVID-19 and has to stay home and self-isolate.

Individual had symptoms of COVID-19 in the last [5 or 10] days and has tested negative for COVID-19 on a single PCR test or on two rapid antigen tests and is not a close contact of someone in the community, or has a household member with symptoms/COVID-19 positive.

  • If a single PCR test or two consecutive rapid antigen tests, separated by 24-48 hours, are both negative, the individual is advised to self-isolate until symptoms are improving for at least 24 hours (or 48 hours if nausea/vomiting and/or diarrhea) and no fever then can return to school/child care. Household members will no longer need to self-isolate. If one of the test results is positive for COVID-19, the individual is presumed to be infected with COVID-19 and should not repeat testing.

Individual has tested positive for COVID-19 on a PCR, rapid molecular, or rapid antigen test in the last [5 or 10] days

  • They must stay home and self-isolate, and should only leave for a medical emergency.
  • Follow guidance under the section “Individual has 1 or more symptoms from A) and/or 2 or more symptoms from B) in the last [5 or 10] days”.
  • If one of the test results is positive for COVID-19, they are presumed to be infected with COVID-19 and should not repeat testing.

Individual has been identified as a close contact of someone in the community who currently has COVID-19. The individual has no symptoms.

  • Close contact exposures in the community are notified by the person who has symptoms or tests positive for COVID-19. They can include playdates, indoor gatherings, indoor activities/sports. The Province of Ontario has stated that attending school/child care with someone who is symptomatic/positive for COVID-19 may not always be considered close con­tact. All cases in the school/child care set­tings are encouraged to notify their close contacts directly if they have significant one-on-one interactions, without wearing a well-fitted, high-quality mask. If the individual has no symptoms:
    • They do not need to self-isolate; the individual can attend school/child care. For 10 days: the individual should monitor for symptoms and wear a well fitted mask when in public settings (including schools and child care unless under 2 years of age). The individual must not visit people or settings that are at higher risk which include where there are seniors or those who are immunocompromised. They are to avoid activities where they need to take off their mask (e.g. playing a wind instrument in music class or removing their mask for sports). Reasonable exceptions would include removal for essential items like eating in shared spaces at school/work/child care and maintaining as much distance as possible. If exempt from masking (e.g. under the age of 2 yrs) may return to public settings without masking.
    • Household members are not required to stay home.
    • The individual must self-isolate right away if symptoms develop.

Individual has been in close contact with someone with COVID-19 and has one or more symptoms

  • Follow guidance under the section, “Individual has 1 or more symptoms from A) and/or 2 or more symptoms from B) in the last [5 or 10] days”.
  • If the individual has one symptom from 1B) AND was a close contact of someone in the community, they are presumed to be infected with COVID-19, must self-isolate and follow guidance under the section, “Individual has 1 or more symptoms from A) and/or 2 or more symptoms from B) in the last [5 or 10] days”.

Household member has symptoms of COVID-19

  • The child/student staff/visitor and rest of the household are not required to self-isolate, if they are 17 years or younger and fully vaccinated; 18 years or older and have received their COVID-19 booster dose AND/OR they had a confirmed COVID-19 infection in the past 90 days.
    • The individual should monitor for symptoms for 10 days and wear a well-fitted mask in all public settings (including schools and child care unless under 2 years of age) when leaving the home. The individual must not visit people or settings that are at higher risk which include where there are seniors or those who are immunocompromised. They are to avoid activities where they need to take off their mask (e.g. playing a wind instrument in music class or removing their mask for sports).  Reasonable exceptions would include removal for essential items like eating in shared spaces at school/work/child care and maintaining as much distance as possible.  If exempt from masking (e.g. under the age of 2 yrs) may return to public settings without masking.
    • The individual must self-isolate right away if symptoms develop
  • If the child/student/staff/visitor and the rest of their household doesn’t meet the above criteria:
    • And they are immunocompromised, they are to self-isolate for 10 days
    • For all others- they must self-isolate for the duration of the household member who has COVID-19 symptoms isolation period (see below)
      • If the household member with symptoms or a positive test result is fully vaccinated, OR 11 years or younger, regardless of vaccination status:
        • The child/student/staff/visitor must self-isolate for at least 5 days from the day the household member’s symptoms started AND until their symptoms have been improving for 24 hours (or 48 hours if nausea/vomiting and/or diarrhea), and they do not have a fever, whichever is longer in duration.
        • Use test date if no symptoms
        • From day 6 to 10 wear a well-fitted mask in all public settings (including schools and child care unless under 2 years of age when leaving the home. The individual must not visit people or settings that are at higher risk which include where there are seniors or those who are immunocompromised. They are to avoid activities where they need to take off their mask (e.g. playing a wind instrument in music class or removing their mask for sports). Reasonable exceptions would include removal for essential items like eating in shared spaces at school/work/child care and maintaining as much distance as possible. If exempt from masking (e.g. under the age of 2 yrs) may return to public settings without masking.
      • If the household member with symptoms or a positive test result is 12 years of age or older AND not fully vaccinated, OR immunocompromised
        • The child/student/staff visitor must self-isolate for 10 days from the day the household member’s symptoms started AND until their symptoms have been improving for 24 hours (or 48 hours if nausea/vomiting/diarrhea) and they do not have a fever, whichever is longer in duration.
        • Use test date if no symptoms.
  • If additional household members develop COVID-19 symptoms
    • They should follow isolation directions for symptomatic individuals and if eligible for testing, they should seek testing.
    • Household members who are 17 years of age or younger and fully vaccinated; 18 years of age or older and have receive their COVID-19 booster AND/OR they had a confirmed COVID-19 infection in the last 90 days and have not developed COVID-19 symptoms are still not required to self-isolate
    • Household members who do not meet the criteria above:
      • And are immunocompromised must isolate for 10 days.
      • All other household members should extend their self-isolation until the last symptomatic (or COVID-19 positive if applicable) person has finished their self-isolation period.
    • The initial household member(s) with symptoms of COVID-19 do not have to extend their self-isolation based on other household members becoming ill.

Individual has travelled outside of Canada

Back to School/Child Care Confirmation Form

  • Toronto Public Health does not recommend or require medical notes for return to school/child care.
  • It is the decision of each child care operator, school or school board to decide if they choose to accept a Back to Child Care/School Confirmation Form.

References


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

For general COVID- 19 inquiries:

  • Call the Toronto Public Health Hotline: 416-338-7600
  • Visit our website:
    • For general information: toronto.ca/COVID19
    • For school information: toronto.ca/COVID19SchoolInfo
    • For child care centres: toronto.ca/COVID19ChildCareInfo

To report:

  • Child/student or staff COVID-19 cases OR
  • Childcare/school absenteeism of children/students/staff that rises to approximately 30% above baseline absenteeism, fill out the survey at the following link:

Toronto Public Health COVID-19 Reporting for Schools and Child Care Centres

To report non-COVID-19 reportable communicable diseases:

  • Call the Communicable Disease Surveillance Unit Information Line:
    • 416-392-7411, Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
  • Visit website and fill out the Reportable Disease Notification Form and fax it to 416-392-0047. After Hours, call 311.

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

Parents can complete a Back to Child Care/School Confirmation Form (fillable form) to provide to the school to confirm the child can return to school. Also available in French.

Mature minors/adult students can complete a Back to School Confirmation Form for Mature Minors/Adults (fillable form) to provide to the school principal. Also available in French.

Children and students can present with COVID-19 symptoms for many reasons. While child care centres/ schools are not asked to do a full assessment of each COVID-19 symptom an individual may have, the information provided below may be helpful in determining if they are presumed to have COVID-19.

Daily COVID-19 Symptom-based Screening Questions:

A) Does the child/student or anyone in the household have 1 or more of these new or worsening symptoms, today, or in the last 5 or 10 days?

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

Consider the following for each symptom:

Fever > 37.8°C and/or chills

Temperature of 37.8 degrees Celsius/100 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, and/or experiencing chills

Cough

Continuous or barking cough that is more than usual, or that makes a whistling noise when breathing. Not related to asthma, post-infectious reactive airways, or other known conditions they already have.

Difficulty breathing (short of breath)

Out of breath, unable to breathe deeply. Not related to asthma or other known respiratory conditions they already have.

Decrease or loss of taste or smell

Not related to seasonal allergies, neurological disorders, or other known conditions they already have.

B) Does the child/student or anyone in the household have 2 or more of these new or worsening symptoms today, or in the last 5 or 10 days?

  • Sore throat
  • Headache
  • Feeling very tired
  • Runny nose/ Nasal congestion
  • Muscle aches/ joint pain
  • Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea

Sore throat or difficulty swallowing

Painful swallowing. Not related to seasonal allergies, acid reflux, or other known causes or conditions you already have.

Headache

Unusual, long-lasting. Not related to tension-type headaches, chronic migraines, or other known causes or conditions you already have. Not related to if the student/child received a COVID-19 and/or flu vaccination in the last 48 hours and is experiencing a mild headache that only began after vaccination.

Extreme tiredness

Unusual, fatigue, lack of energy, poor feeding in infants. Not related to depression, insomnia, thyroid dysfunction, sudden injury, or other known causes or conditions they already have. Not related if they received a COVID-19 and/or flu vaccination in the last 48 hours and are experiencing mild fatigue that only began after vaccination.

Runny or stuffy/congested nose

Not related to seasonal allergies, being outside in cold weather, or other known causes or conditions that the child already has.

Muscle aches or joint pain

Not related to if the student/child received a COVID-19 and/or flu vaccination in the last 48 hours.

Nausea, vomiting and/or diarrhea

Not related to irritable bowel syndrome, anxiety, menstrual cramps, or other known causes or conditions they already have. A stomach ache on its own is not a COVID-19 symptom.

If the child/student or someone in their household has one or more symptoms from A or two or more symptoms from B, not related to other known causes or conditions they already have, the child/student should stay home and isolate immediately. A person who has these symptoms is presumed to have COVID-19 even if not tested and should follow the direction on self-isolation on page 2 of the COVID-19 self-screening questionnaire. They are to seek assessment from their health care provider as needed.

What is an alternative diagnosis?

There are many reasons children/students may have symptoms that are not related to COVID-19, including seasonal allergies, asthma, etc. Children/students who have a history of related or known causes of symptoms for conditions they already have can seek an alternative diagnosis from a medical doctor or nurse practitioner. The alternative diagnosis will confirm that they do not have COVID-19, but another condition that explains the child’s/student’s symptoms. If the child/student has a chronic health condition and symptoms are getting worse, they should stay home and speak to a health care provider or seek medical attention.

What is not an alternative diagnosis?

  • Medical notes only indicating that the child/student has one of the symptoms, but that it is not COVID-19 (e.g. child/student does not have COVID-19, but has a cough).
  • Medical notes indicating that symptoms have improved without the child/student completing the required isolation period and the child/student can return to school without diagnosing a condition not related to COVID-19 (e.g. child/student had a fever, symptoms have improved and they can return to school).

Back to Child Care/School Confirmation Form

Parents can complete and submit a Back to Child Care/School Confirmation Form to the child care or school to confirm that the child is safe to return to school. Toronto Public Health does not recommend the use of medical notes for return to child care or school.

For more information, please review:


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

Student Nutrition Programs should follow the safety measures set out by the Ministry of Health, Toronto Public Health and the Ontario Food Premises Regulation (493/17) for schools, community centres and organizations. The COVID -19 information is applicable for all sectors. See information on Toronto Public Health’s Student Nutrition Program.

TPH has established a team of liaison public health nurses to provide COVID-19 and mental health and well-being support to schools as they reopen

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

Practice good oral hygiene by:

  • Daily brushing and flossing.
  • Limiting sugary food and drinks.
  • Seeking dental care early.

Please go to the Toronto Public Health web page: Dental & Oral Health Services for more information.

Call Toronto Public Health at 416-338-7600 if you do not have dental coverage, or if you need emergency dental care. Information about dental clinics in Toronto is also available.

Learn more about COVID-19 vaccines and read Toronto Public Health’s information about COVID-19 vaccines and children and COVID-19 vaccine resource list for youth (also available in French).

The table below includes links to resources that may be helpful for school administrators, child care operators, parents/caregivers and students/children. 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 and for child care settings at toronto.ca/COVID19ChildCareInfo.

TPH COVID-19 Contact List for Child Care/Schools: How to Report a Positive Case:

Source Resource Link Audience
Toronto Public Health Contact List and How to Report a Case or Childcare/School Absenteeism Staff in child care centres and schools

Guidance Documents:

Source Resource Link Audience
Toronto Public Health COVID-19 Guidance for Schools JK to Grade 12 Staff in JK-12 schools
Government of Ontario COVID-19: health and safety measures at schools Staff in JK-12 schools
Government of Ontario COVID-19: health and safety measures for child care Staff in child care centres

 

TPH JK-12 E-Newsletter Inserts for Parents/Caregivers and PA Announcements for JK-12 Students

Source Resource Link Audience
Toronto Public Health JK-12 E-Newsletter Inserts for Parents/Caregivers and PA Announcements for JK-12 Students Staff in JK-12 schools

Screening Tools and Related Resources:

Source Resource Link Audience
Toronto Public Health Screening Questionnaire for Children/Students/Adults Staff and children/students in child care centres and schools
Toronto Public Health Screening Poster for Children/Students/Adults Staff and children/students in child care centres and schools
Government of Ontario COVID-19 school and child care screening Staff and children/students in child care centres and schools
Toronto Public Health Back to Child Care/School Confirmation Form Parents for children/students in child care centres and schools
Toronto Public Health Back to School Confirmation Form for Mature Minors/Adult Students Mature minors/adult students for JK-12 schools
Toronto Public Health COVID-19 Decision Tool for Schools and Child Care Centres Staff in child care centres and schools
Toronto Public Health Understanding COVID-19 Symptoms in Child Care Attendees and JK-12 Students Staff and parents/caregivers of children/students in child care centres and schools
Toronto Public Health How to Count Self-Isolation Days If You Have COVID-19 Staff and parents/caregivers of children/students in child care centres and schools
Toronto Public Health A Parent’s Guide if your Child is a Close Contact of a Person with COVID-19 Parents/caregivers of children/students in child care centres and schools
Toronto Public Health What to Do if Your Child Has COVID-19 Symptoms Parents/caregivers of children/students in child care centres and schools
Toronto Public Health Know When to Self-Monitor, Self-Isolate or Send your Child to School Parents/caregivers of children/students in child care centres and schools
Toronto Public Health Who is a close contact in the community Staff and parents/caregivers of children/students in child care centres and schools
Toronto Public Health My Child Has Symptoms of COVID-19. Now What Parents/caregivers of children/students in child care centres and schools
Toronto Public Health Planning to travel with your child outside of Canada? Parents/caregivers of children/students in child care centres and schools

General COVID-19 Resources:

Source Resource Link Audience
Toronto Public Health COVID-19 Fact Sheet Parents/caregivers of children/students in child care centres and schools
Toronto Public Health How does COVID-19 Spread? Parents/caregivers of children/students in child care centres and schools
SickKids About Kids Health-COVID-19 Staff, families, and children/students
Government of Canada COVID Alert app Staff and students in

secondary schools

COVID-19 Vaccine Resources:

Source Resource Link Audience
Toronto Public Health COVID-19 Vaccine Resources (available in multiple languages) Staff, families, and children/students
Toronto Public Health COVID-19 Vaccines Staff, families, and children/students
Toronto Public Health Information on COVID-19 vaccines and children Staff, families, and children/students
Toronto Public Health COVID-19 & Vaccines: Children Staff, families, and children/students

Hand Hygiene/Respiratory Etiquette Resources:

Source Resource Link Audience
Toronto Public Health Clean Hands Kit resource package Students in grades 4 – 6
Health Canada Hand washing heroes Students in grades JK – 3
Health Canada Coughing and sneezing hygiene for kids Students in grades JK – 3
City of Toronto Cover your Cough Staff in child care centres and schools to use as needed
Toronto Public Health Cover Your Cough Poster Staff in child care centres and schools to use as needed
Toronto Public Health Wash your Hands Staff in child care centres and schools to use as needed
Toronto Public Health Hand Washing Poster Staff in child care centres and schools to use as needed
Toronto Public Health Hand Sanitizing Poster Staff in child care centres and schools to use as needed

Masks Resources:

Source Resource Link Audience
City of Toronto How to wear a mask at school/child care Staff and students/children in child care centres and schools
City of Toronto Helping children wear masks at school/child care Staff and students/children in child care centres and schools
Toronto Public Health How to safely wear a mask Staff and students/children in child care centres and schools
Toronto Public Health Face Mask and Coverings Offer  Best Protection Staff and students/children in child care centres and schools
Toronto Public Health When using a mask, choose one that is high quality and fits well Staff and students/children in child care centres and schools
Toronto Public Health Face Masks & Respirators Staff, families, and children/students

Mental Health Resources:

Source Resource Link Audience
City of Toronto Self-Care Tips for Managing Stress and Anxiety Staff, families, and children/students
City of Toronto COVID-19 Mental Health Support Staff, families, and children/students
Toronto Public Health COVID-19 Mental Health Resources Staff, families, and children/students
Toronto Public Health Taking Care of Your Mental Health and Well-Being Staff, families, and children/students
Toronto Public Health What is Resiliency? Staff, families, and children/students
Toronto Public Health Box Breathing Staff, families, and children/students
Government of Ontario Mental Health, Wellness and Addictions Support Staff, families, and children/students
School Mental Health Ontario School Mental Health Ontario Staff, families, and children/students
School Mental Health Ontario COVID-19-Parents and Families Parents/caregivers of children/students in child care centres and schools
Children’s Mental Health Ontario COVID-19 Resources Staff, families, and children/students

 

Infection Prevention and Control Websites:

Source Resource Link Audience
Government of Ontario – Ministry of Labour COVID-19 and workplace health and safety Child care operators and school administrators
Government of Ontario – Ministry of Labour COVID-19 and the Occupational Health and Safety Act Child care operators and school administrators
Government of Canada Hard-surface disinfectants and hand sanitizers (COVID-19): List of disinfectants with evidence for use against COVID-19 Child care operators and school administrators
Toronto Public Health Infection Prevention and Control in Child Care Centres – Requirements and Best Practices Child care operators and staff

 


View this information in French.