Last updated: October 23, 2021 at 11:10 a.m.

There are still many ways to have fun and celebrate Halloween safely in the school setting. School wide events with mixed cohorts and gatherings are not recommended at this time. These are some suggestions for your consideration for celebrating Halloween in Schools:

  • Decorate the classroom. Hang Halloween decorations in or around the classroom.
  • Students can attend school dressed up in a costume if they wish. Since students are required to wear face coverings in school:
    • They should not wear a costume mask on top of their face covering.
    • They should not remove their face covering and wear only a costume mask. A costume mask does not replace a face covering.
    • Because they are wearing a face covering, it is recommended that students not wear make-up from below the eyes to ensure their face coverings are not dirtied. Students can consider wearing colourful face coverings as part of their costume.
  • If staff or students bring treats to school for sharing with others, recommend having individually packaged treats. Wash hands/sanitize hands before distributing. Suggest save eating treats for at home. If eating treats at school, ensure students are physically distanced, similar to while eating lunch.
  • Students can have a Halloween event in their classroom restricted only to their class cohort. This can include Halloween art activities, celebrating virtually with other classrooms, reading Halloween stories or watching a movie.

Download the Hosting a Safe Halloween Gathering During COVID-19 Infographic

Download the Safely Hand Out Treats During COVID-19 Infographic

Download the Stay Safe while Trick-or Treating During COVID-19 Infographic

The following recommendations are intended to help JK to Grade 12 schools and school boards to reduce the spread of COVID-19. It is based on provincial Ministry of Education guidelines COVID-19: Health, Safety and Operational Guidance for Schools (2021-22). As each site will be different, it is ultimately the responsibility of every school to review their own policies, procedures and site-specific circumstances, and assess their ability to operate while ensuring that the appropriate infection prevention and control (IPAC) measures are implemented and maintained.  The aim and purpose of this document is to assist individuals, schools, and school boards with information related to the Ontario Government’s reopening framework as well as Toronto Public Health requirements to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in the school setting. It is important to know that breaches of some of these directions may constitute offences under provincial regulations or other public health legal requirements. While we aim to provide relevant and timely information, no guarantee can be given as to the accuracy or completeness of any information provided. This guidance is not intended to nor does it provide legal advice and should not be relied upon or treated as legal advice. Users seeking legal advice should consult with a qualified legal professional.

This guidance is recommended for all schools in Toronto. The guidance in the document is based on the current rates of COVID-19 in Toronto. If rates of COVID-19 increase or decrease, the guidance may change. Schools with high vaccination rates, or neighborhoods with lower COVID-19 rates are still recommended to follow all of this guidance.

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 your school board’s internal policies and procedures, your 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: On September 8, Toronto Public Health (TPH) recommended that schools and school boards gradually return to extra-curricular activities, field trips and high contact sports with mixed cohorts for the start of the school year while school routines are established.

When a school community establishes their routines and student cohorts, and is confident in their health and safety protocols including infection prevention and control procedures, a gradual return of clubs, activities, sports teams, bands (without wind instruments) and extra-curricular is recommended with the considerations outlined in this guidance.

TPH will continuously monitor COVID-19 transmission rates in the community and update guidance as required.

Recommendations for schools to reduce the spread of COVID-19

Preparing for the Opening of Schools

Develop/update COVID-19 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 and screening confirmation
  • Attendance reporting
  • Cohorting staff and students
  • Guests/volunteers in school setting
  • Transportation of students (i.e. school buses)
  • Physical distancing
  • Hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette
  • Mask requirements
  • Isolation/exclusion of ill staff and students
  • Return to the school setting for symptomatic staff and students
  • Environmental cleaning and disinfection including cleaning and disinfection of toys, equipment and other shared materials
  • Food safety practices
  • Occupational health and safety including use of personal protective equipment, vaccination policies, attendance policy to not come to work sick. For more information, refer to the Toronto Public Health (TPH) Guidance for Employers on Preventing COVID-19 in the Workplace.
  • Communication with families/guardians and other 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 confirmed case of COVID-19 including differences for vaccinated and unvaccinated people.
    • Vaccination disclosure to quickly identify vaccinated and unvaccinated students and staff
  • Develop vaccination policies and other initiatives to increase COVID-19 vaccine confidence and uptake and achieve the highest vaccination rates. For more information refer to the TPH Guidance on Vaccine Information for Employers.
  • To prepare for a potential closure, schools and schools boards should have a plan in place so they can move to remote learning quickly to ensure continuity of learning for students.
Train staff
Prepare physical space
  • Designate drop-off and pick up location(s) outside the entrance of the school. Pick-up and drop off of students should happen outside of the school unless it is determined that there is a need for parent/guardian to enter the setting.
  • Designate and clearly mark specific, separate entrances and exits and only permit entry and exit through these doors.
  • Download, print and post signs in visible locations to raise awareness about COVID-19 and encourage public health measures:
  • How the Virus can Spread
  • Physical Distancing
  • How to Protect Yourself
  • Wash your Hands
  • Cover your Cough
  • COVID-19 Fact Sheet
  • Wearing a Mask Dos and Don’ts
  • COVID-19 Vaccine Flyer
  • Post signs at all entrances instructing students, parents, staff and others not to enter the school if they are sick or they do not pass the screening process. Clearly designate an entrance for confirmation of screening by visitors.
  • Determine entry procedures to avoid crowding by students.
  • Should on-site screening be required prepare a screening station that allows a minimum of two metres/six feet distance between staff conducting screening and the individual being screened. Alternatively, a protective barrier (e.g. plexiglass) may be equipped around the screening station.
    • If a barrier is not possible, then staff conducting the screening should wear masks and other PPE if required.
    • Make hand sanitizer (70-90% alcohol concentration) available at the screening area.
    • Use visual markers/cues spaced two metres/six feet apart (e.g. tape on the floor, pylons, signs) to help students and anyone else entering the school to maintain a two metre/six foot distance from each other if waiting to be screened.
  • Prepare the classroom so that students can maintain two metres/six feet physical distancing as much as possible while seated.
  • Remove extra chairs, tables and furniture to increase space to allow students to spread out.
  • Have desks forward facing.
  • Mark furniture locations so that they may be repositioned easily (e.g. tape/paint on the floor).
  • For JK/SK classrooms increase space between seating and play areas so that children and staff can practice physical distancing (i.e. two metres/six feet) as much as possible.
  • Place tape, signs or other visual markers on floors, tables, seats and in play areas.
  • Provide physical cues or guides by placing markers such as tape, stickers, safety cones or painted lines every two metres/six feet where appropriate (e.g. entrances, washrooms).
  • Consider installing cues such as stickers or signs at frequently touched surfaces (e.g. water fountains, doors) to encourage students to avoid directly touching with their hands (e.g. use your elbow or the back of your hand).
  • Where appropriate, design and implement a walking flow for the school, such as one-way routes with prominent signs and/or floor markings to prevent crowding (e.g. entrances, hallways, classrooms).
  • Designate a room(s) in the school as an isolation room/wellness room for sick individuals. Schools with large populations can consider more than one room for this purpose. This room should only be used as an isolation/wellness room and not for other purposes. It should contain only minimal items and equipment so that cleaning and disinfecting is easy to perform after an ill individual leaves the room.
  • Increase ventilation and air flow in areas, if possible.
Maintain documentation
  • Schools are required to maintain and have available the following documentation in case it is needed for case and contact tracing in accordance with all applicable legislation, including the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.
    • Class list, attendance record and seating chart for each cohort. The class list should include each student’s name, date of birth and contact information. Include vaccination information if available.
    • Staff list, attendance record and schedule, including information if teachers move from classroom to classroom. These lists should include the staff name, date of birth (if possible) and contact information. Include vaccination information if available.
    • List of students in each bus cohort taking school transportation and a seating chart. Include vaccination information if available
  • List of students in each cohort for any extracurricular activity, and indicating the type of activity (e.g. sport, art club) Include vaccination information if available
  • Staggered lunch/recess schedule for each class cohort.
    • Staggered lunch break schedule for staff.
  • Record of essential visitors that include name, company, contact information, date, time in/out, areas visited and screening completion verification.
  • Ensure contact information is up-to-date for both students and staff. This includes emergency contact information of an individual who is able to pick up a student whenever needed.

During School Opening

Stay home when you’re sick

  • Remind staff, students and their families to stay at home and not attend the school if they are sick.
  • Provide education about COVID-19 symptoms and to stay home and get tested.

Screen staff, students, and visitors for COVID-19

  • Students should be given a screening questionnaire to complete each day before arriving at school or use the provincial school screening tool.
  • Staff and visitors should be given a screening questionnaire to complete each day before arriving at school or use the provincial school screening tool.
  • The principal and those designated within the school will be responsible for ensuring all students, staff and essential visitors have completed and passed their daily COVID-19 self-screen.
  • It is strongly recommended that all students, staff and visitors complete the required COVID-19 Screening questionnaire before entering school. The questions can be completed on a paper-based questionnaire (i.e. asked directly and answers recorded), electronically, or verbally. Consider the use of smartphone applications, stickers or other innovative methods to indicate that individuals have completed their screening. At a minimum, individuals are to complete and provide daily confirmation/proof of having self-screened in a format deemed appropriate and accessible by the local school/school board (e.g. proof of completed paper copy of screening questionnaire, mobile application indicating a “pass”), prior to/upon entry to school.
  • If completion of the questionnaire is done at home before arriving, it is important to ensure that it was completed. It is recommended that schools/school boards validate daily self-screening for students, school staff, and visitors each day. This is called active screening or screening confirmation. Checking the screening can occur outside before entry to the school (see the section Preparing the Physical Space). To reduce risks, this may be especially considered if a new routine is being established by the school. Once it is confirmed that the vast majority of staff and students are completing the screening tool before coming to school, checking for completion of the tool can occur each morning inside the classroom.
  • If the screening tool is not completed, it is recommended that students go to the wellness room or a place where they can physically distance and wear a mask while the parent is called to confirm the screening. Some school boards will allow secondary students to answer for themselves. If your school is part of a school board, please check your school board policy.
  • Daily temperature screening is not required.

Enhance attendance reporting practices for staff, student and visitors

  • Maintain daily attendance records of all individuals entering the school. This includes, but is not limited to, staff, students, parents/guardians, and maintenance workers. There should be comprehensive absence reporting of sick and well staff and students.
  • Records should include the following information: name, company, contact information, date, time of arrival/departure, reason for visit, rooms/areas visited, screening completed, etc.
  • Schools are encouraged to follow-up with all individuals to determine the reason for any unplanned absences, and determine if the absence is due to illness and to note any symptoms (e.g. fever, sore throat, cough).
  • Encourage parents/guardians of ill students or ill or unwell staff with COVID-19 like symptoms to seek COVID-19 testing and/or to call Telehealth at 1-866-797-0000 or their primary care provider to determine if further care is required. Take home testing kits may be available at some schools.
  • 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).
  • Attendance records for the last 30 days must be maintained and available on-site for all common school areas used by staff and students (e.g. staff lunch rooms, departmental staff rooms, school transportation, in-person attendance or work at a physical school location, before/after school programs located at a school, or other facilities shared with the school).

Assign staff and students into designated cohorts.

  • Classes must be cohorted to limit the mixing of students so that if a student or employee develops infection the number of exposures are able to be managed.
  • Elementary school students will remain in one cohort for the full day. This cohort will be with the same classmates and their homeroom teacher within the one class. Cohorted classes should stay together with one teacher as much as possible. Smaller elementary cohorts are preferred to maintain as much physical distance as possible and to reduce contacts with many students.
  • Specialized teachers, for classes such as French as a second language/English (in French-language school boards), the arts, and health and physical education, are still able to go into classrooms to provide the full breadth of programming for students. Ensure specialized teachers take all precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and reduce the risk of COVID-19 spread to many cohorts.
  • Students may be pulled into smaller groups for supports (e.g., ESL, special education support) with students from other cohorts. Ensure attendance records are maintained for all smaller groups and cohorts.
  • In secondary schools, school boards are to adopt secondary timetabling methods that emphasize cohorting of students as much as possible and to limit the number of student-to student contacts. For the fall semester, school boards have been instructed to timetable students with no more than two courses at a time in order to revert to more restrictive measures if needed. Some school boards may implement an alternating week or modified semester model (week 1 Course A/Course B, Week 2: Course C/Course D). Exceptions may be made for small schools where contacts can be limited by cohorting grades.
  • Students may be part of other smaller cohorts that may include extra-curricular cohorts (i.e. before and after school programs, clubs). If the school has multiple extra-curricular activities, TPH recommends masking and physical distancing between students, staff and volunteers, to prevent additional spread of COVID-19. Consider limiting extra-curricular activities at the start of the school year, while regular school routines are established. Consider also limiting the number of extra-curricular cohorts a student can participate in, to minimize the number of cohorts each student is a part of.
  • The same teacher should remain with the same class as much as possible. Where different teachers are required, have staff come to the classroom and maintain physical distancing with the students so that students do not have to change rooms. When possible, arrange for the same supply teacher to cover the class during longer absences.
  • Members of different cohorts can interact outside with distancing encouraged or inside with distancing and masking at all times.
  • If operationally feasible, to decrease risk, classroom cohorts can remain with only their cohorts during recess time.
  • Close contact may be unavoidable between members of cohorts. General IPAC practices and, for older students, measures such as physical distancing should be maintained as much as possible.

Practice physical distancing

  • Physical distancing means keeping a distance of two metres/six feet from others.
  • Physical distancing must not compromise supervision or the students’ safety.
  • Schools can maintain physical distancing by:
    • limiting the number of visitors allowed in the school.
    • Provide visual cues/guides on floors or sidewalks and signs and posters on walls to guide appropriate distances in lines/queues at all times.
    • Stagger periods of student movement and common activities (e.g. lunches, recess) around the school and discourage students congregating in the hallways.
    • Encourage the use of stairs, when possible. Where required, elevator use should be reduced to prevent crowding.
  • Staff should remind students to greet each other using non-physical gestures (e.g. wave or nod), not to share personal items, such as masks etc., and encourage everyone to keep their distance as best as possible during the school day.

Practice proper use of face masks

  • Masks do not replace the need for physical distancing, hand washing, and staying home when sick.
  • Students in grades 1 to 12 are to wear masks indoors in school, including the hallways and during classes with reasonable exceptions for medical conditions. Mask can be medical, non-medical or cloth. TPH would not interpret the provision for reasonable exceptions to mandatory masking to include an exception for vaccinated persons. Reasonable exceptions generally include such things as accommodations of certain health conditions or special needs. Students are not required to wear masks outdoors but physical distancing should be encouraged between cohorts as much as possible.
  • Students in junior and senior kindergarten will be strongly recommended to wear masks in indoor spaces.
  • Students (over the age of 2) will be required to use non-medical face masks if taking public transportation to school.
  • Teach students on the proper use of masks, and how to safely put on and take off a mask.
  • The City of Toronto’s mandatory mask bylaw does not apply to schools. Schools and school boards should develop policies regarding mask use.
  • Students are expected to bring their own mask to wear on student transportation and at school.
  • Schools and school boards can continue to refer to Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC)and Public Health Ontario (PHO) (PDF) for guidance on appropriate mask types and usage.
  • Plan mask breaks during the school day:
    • If students must take masks off when they are indoors, ideally they should be seated, not moving in hallways, and keeping two metres / six feet from others.  If this is not possible, they should be seated with their cohort. Windows should be open, if possible, for circulation.
    • Students are not required to wear masks when outdoors for recess, so mask breaks can be taken at this time. However, when outdoors during recess physical distancing should be encouraged as much as possible. To decrease risk, classroom cohorts can remain with only their cohorts during recess time.
    • Masks should always be kept on when students are lining up outdoors to come in.
    • Students should practice proper hand hygiene before taking off their mask and before putting it back on.
    • The mask should be stored in a paper bag, envelope, or something that does not retain moisture if it will be worn again. If using plastic bags, they should only be used for short periods of time. Containers can also be used but they should be cleaned and disinfected after each use. During recess, students can place their masks in these items (ensure they are labelled) and then place it in a fanny pack for safe keeping, so they are able to carry it on their person. Bags/envelopes should be disposed after use. Fanny packs should be labelled with the child’s name.  If the mask is put directly into the fanny pack, without a paper bag, envelope etc., then the fanny pack will need to be laundered. Mask should be put on before going inside.

Ensure protocols are in place for personal protective equipment for staff

  • Schools must provide personal protective equipment (PPE) for use by staff. Follow guidance from the school board and Ministry of Labour.
  • All school staff are required to wear a medical mask at all times when indoors (except when eating or if alone in a private space) unless exempt, in accordance with provincial and board of education requirements. Staff are recommended to wear medical masks outdoors when physical distancing cannot be maintained.
  • School staff are strongly recommended to wear eye protection (e.g. face shield, goggles), in addition to a medical mask, in situations where it is recommended for PPE. For example, if physical distancing of at least two metres/six feet cannot be adequately and consistently maintained with another person who is not wearing a mask.
  • Staff should consult with their Occupational Health and Safety lead on which PPE is required and when and how to wear PPE. This would include wearing a mask and other PPE if required at other times when physical distancing cannot be maintained, including, but not limited to:
    • Providing direct care (e.g. feeding, assisting a student with hand hygiene).
    • Consoling an upset child.
    • Assisting a student with changing
    • Cleaning up bodily fluids with the risk of splashing.
  • Staff in contact with preschool students, students with disabilities or vocational education where it is necessary to be less than two metres/six feet from another person without a physical barrier must wear personal protective equipment appropriate in the circumstances at all times.
  • A face shield does not provide equivalent protection to a mask. A mask should be worn, and then, a face shield or goggle on top of that. See Ministry of Labour guidelines.
  • Train staff on the proper use of masks, and how to safely put on and take off a mask.
  • 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 student or a student 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.

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% 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.
  • Staff must wash their hands or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer (70-90% alcohol concentration) before and after touching any student personal belongings, or any shared school items.

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. However, do not open windows and doors if doing so poses a safety risk to school staff and students.
  • For schools with full mechanical ventilation and mechanical ventilations for part of schools, school boards/schools are expected to:
    • Have all ventilation systems inspected and in good working order prior to the start of the school year
    • Use the highest-grade filters possible, preferably MERV 13 filters
    • Undertake frequent filter changes throughout the school year
    • Operate ventilation systems 2 hours or more before and after school occupancy
    • Calibrate HVAC systems for maximum air flow and increased fresh air
  • 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).
  • For schools or parts of schools without mechanical ventilation, place standalone high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters in all classrooms and learning environments. They should be sized for the classroom or learning environment that it is being used in.  More than one HEPA unit may be required if the classroom or learning environment is large.
  • 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.
  • 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.

Encourage vaccination and develop a vaccination policy

  • Encourage students and staff who are 12 years of age and older to get vaccinated with the COVID-19 vaccine. Students born in 2009 are eligible to receive 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
  • Youth must be 12 years of age or older to attend a COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic. Youth do not need to attend a clinic with a parent as parental consent is not required for them to receive a vaccine, provided the health-care provider administering the vaccine deems the youth capable of understanding their decision. Please see the Does my child require informed consent to receive their COVID-19 vaccine infographic.
  • *Fully vaccinated is defined as an individual ≥14 days after receiving their second dose of a two-dose COVID-19 vaccine series or a single dose of a one-dose COVID-19 vaccine series.
  • Schools are encouraged to develop a vaccination policy for staff and students. The policy should consider voluntary disclosure of vaccination status to ensure efficient exclusion of unvaccinated students/staff in the event of an exposure to COVID-19 in the school setting.

Allow for shared materials with public health measures

  • 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.
  • Students/staff should be encouraged to limit the personal belongings they bring to All personal items (e.g. backpack, clothing, water bottles, and food) should be labeled and kept in an area designated for the student, such as a cubby or locker. Students should be reminded not to touch or share each other’s personal items or storage areas.

Allow for shared spaces with public health measures

  • Shared homerooms, libraries and computer/technology labs are permitted.
  • Consideration should be given to cleaning/disinfecting a room/space that is shared by cohorts or has other user groups before and after the space is used by each cohort group if possible.
  • When different cohorts interact in shared indoor spaces, masking and at least two metres/six feet distancing should be maintained between cohorts.
  • Plans should be made to prevent mixing of cohorts while using washrooms/change rooms. If mixing should occur, individuals are to maintain a physical distance from one another and be masked.
  • Students do not need to stay within their cohorts during recess. However, they are encouraged to remain in their cohorts and remain physically distant from other students outside of their cohort as much as possible.
  • Ensure protocols are in place for locker rooms and coat rooms
  • For schools that have classroom with coatrooms:
    • Label the hooks in the coatroom so that students know where to hang their coats.
    • Allow for staggered movement into the coatroom in order to maintain distancing of two metres/six feet as much as possible.
    • Students can remain seated at their desk with their coats/jackets on while the teacher allows for staggered student movement into the coatroom for students to either hang up/pick up their coats.
    • Clean shoes for inside class use can be kept in a storage box at the students’ desks.
  • If winter boots are kept in the hallway, allow for staggered movement to the boot area to ensure students are not congregating in the hallways to take off or put on their boots.
  • The use of student lockers is permitted. Accessing lockers should include masking and physically distancing from others as much as possible. Avoid crowding and gathering at lockers and in hallways.

Consider options for large gatherings

  • Keep up to date on and comply with various provincial and City of Toronto emergency orders, directives and bylaws related to specific amenities.
  • School assemblies or other student/school gatherings are permitted and should follow the relevant provincial requirements under the Re-opening Ontario Act.
  • Virtual assemblies and gatherings continue to be a safer option.
  • In-person assemblies can include multiple cohorts in alignment with provincial capacity limits. Cohorts should be physically distanced 2 metres/6 feet or more from other cohorts at both indoor or outdoor assemblies. Masks should be worn at all times. Consider plans to avoid congregating and crowding before and after the assembly.

Modify food practices for snacks meals/lunch time

  • Since eating requires the removal of masks, additional measures should be considered to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
  • Students may eat together:
    • Outdoors in their cohort, with distancing as much as possible within a cohort, and distancing between cohorts.
    • Indoors with a minimum distance of two metres/six feet between cohorts and distancing as much as possible within a cohort.
    • It is recommended that within a cohort, efforts should be made to keep students two metres/six feet apart while eating, since masks are removed.
    • Consider using the classroom for lunch periods instead of a cafeteria or lunch rooms to allow for distancing within and between cohorts.
    • To optimize physical distancing, students can also sit in chairs around the classroom or every other student can take their mask off to eat their lunch, and once they are done put their masks on and allow the rest of the students to do so, if this allows for better physical distancing.
  • Open windows and doors if possible, to allow for circulation. When possible have lunch outdoors.
  • Larger schools should look for ways to limit the number of students and cohorts eating lunch in proximity to each other (i.e. staggered lunch periods, eating outdoors or in alternative spaces).
  • Encourage quiet lunches to reduce the potential for spreading respiratory droplets.
  • If staff are having lunch in the staff room, they are to remain two metres/six feet away from all other staff. It is recommended that they do not congregate with anyone else. Extra chairs can be removed from the staff room and only keep what is possible to allow for a two metre/six foot distance. They are to unmask only while eating lunch and then immediately put their mask back on. Lunches should be brief and quiet as much as possible while eating. When possible, staff can eat lunch in a room alone, or outdoors or in an area where there are no students or other staff present.
  • Use of the cafeteria is permitted:
    • Capacity limits for cafeterias should be established to allow two metre/six feet distancing between cohorts and as much as possible within cohorts.
    • Where this is not possible, consideration should be given to using the classroom for lunches, staggered lunches, and other space within the school to allow for physical distancing.
  • Ensure students and staff perform proper hand hygiene before and after eating.
  • Ensure students have their own drink bottle that is labeled, kept with them during the day and not shared.
  • Ensure students have their own individual meal or snack.
  • Reinforce no food sharing policies.
  • Nutrition/third party food programs and non-instructional food events such as pizza day are permitted to operate, provided that food handlers use adequate food handling and safety practices.
  • Offer a variety of nutritious foods that are minimally processed, pre-wrapped or ready-to-eat, including fresh fruit and vegetables, dairy products and whole grain products. Portion foods in the food preparation area. If not feasible, food can be portioned with minimal food handling in the area where it will be served.
  • Grab-and go-formats are preferred.
    • For example, food items can be put together in one container (e.g. paper or plastic bag) for each student, or each item can be available for students to take from its own bin/tray.
    • Students should either wash their hands with soap and water, or use hand sanitizer, if their hands are not visibly dirty, prior to selecting and eating food.
    • Students should select and touch only the food they are taking.
    • Common utensils should not be used.
  • Student nutrition programs to review Toronto Public Health Student Nutrition Program Guidance

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.
  • Fill water bottles rather than drinking directly from the mouthpiece of water fountains.
  • Post signs near water fountains emphasizing public health measures.

Plan for students with special education needs

  • Students should continue to have access to the community based health and school based rehabilitation services they need to effectively participate in learning and in school. Protocols should allow registered health professionals, including rehabilitations service providers to deliver services in person in school when clinically appropriate, subject to public health guidance and any applicable legislative requirements.
  • Where necessary for faces to be seen for lip reading to support students who are deaf or hard of hearing, masks with clear sections may be appropriate
  • Where staff are required to perform an Aerosol Generating Medical Procedure (AGMP) or required to be in the same room when AGMP is being performed, N95 respirators that are fit tested should be provided.

Establish protocols for the safe transportation of students

  • Encourage active forms of travel (e.g. walking, biking) or private transportation by parents and caregivers, where possible to ease crowding on public transportation.
  • Students/bus drivers should complete their COVID-19 screening at home before boarding the bus.
  • School vehicles can operate at full capacity. Vehicles for elementary students should reduce capacity where possible.
  • Where possible, the seat directly behind the school bus driver should remain empty to maintain physical distancing. If possible, a physical barrier should be used to separate the bus driver and students while ensuring compliance with all federal and provincial legislation and not interfering or effect the safe operation of the
  • School bus operators should have a reduced number of drivers per vehicle, and ensure that the same driver uses the same vehicle and keeps the same work schedule to limit the number of contacts they have as much as possible.
  • Students should have assigned seats and a record of the seating plan with attendance should be maintained for contact tracing purposes. Where school vehicles are able to operate at less than full capacity, seating arrangement should support physical distancing between students and the driver on the school bus, which can include:
    • One student per seat. Students in the same household or classroom cohort can share seats.
    • Student of the same cohort sit in the same area.
    • Boarding/exiting strategies are considered (e.g. fill seats back-to-front or front-to-back to reduce student interactions).
  • Practices to support adequate ventilation and air circulation (e.g. opening windows) should be implemented.
  • Bus drivers should wear appropriate PPE, including a medical mask. Students in Grade 1-12 are required to wear non- medical masks when waiting for, boarding, sitting on, and leaving the bus. It is strongly recommended that students in JK and SK do so as well.
  • High touch surfaces such (i.e. handrails, seatbacks) should be disinfected at least twice daily.
  • Student transportation service providers should also consider the Health and Safety Guidance During COVID-19 for Student Transportation Employers released by the Public Services Health and Safety Association.

Consideration for other school activities/programs:

Student placements and co-operative education
  • In-person community placements can be arranged in alignment with the relevant provincial requirements under the Reopening Ontario Act, the direction and recommendations of the local health unit, the direction of the school board, and with the safety and curriculum requirements of the Cooperative Education curriculum.
  • If in person placements are to proceed, public health precautions must be in place.
  • Co-operative placements can also be offered virtually where feasible.
  • Be mindful that public health guidance and direction can change based on the local context and educators should be prepared to work with the student to modify their plans in order to achieve the curriculum expectations.
Health and physical education – curriculum based
  • Students are to remain in their cohorts.
  • The use of gymnasiums, swimming pools, change rooms, weight rooms, indoor physical education equipment and shared outdoor equipment are permitted with masking and physical distancing.
  • It is not advisable to wear a mask during intense cardiovascular activities. At this time, it is recommended that high intensity and/or high contact activities are held outdoors where physical distancing is possible. Alternatively in well ventilated areas indoors, cardiovascular activity can be considered if there is adequate physical distancing of 2 metres/6 feet or more.
  • Consider holding physical education classes outdoors.
  • Consider disinfecting shared equipment between cohort use if possible or necessary. Students should practice hand hygiene before and after participating in physical activity and equipment uses. The risk associated with transmission with shared objects is low therefore the focus should be on regular hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette to reduce the risk of infection related to shared equipment especially when the cleaning of shared objects is not feasible.
  • The whole gym itself does not need to be cleaned after each cohort, unless visibly dirty, but high-touch surfaces should be cleaned twice daily or more often as required.
  • Playground structures do not need to be cleaned or disinfected between uses. Hand hygiene should be practiced before and after using playground equipment.

Music education

  • Music programs including the singing and the use of wind instruments are permitted in areas with adequate ventilation.
    • Wind instruments are permitted indoors within a cohort if a minimum of 2 metres/six feet or more can be maintained between each person. A distance greater than 2 metres/six feet if possible should be encouraged. The use of a large, well-ventilated spaces should be prioritized. It is recommended that students remove masks only while immediately playing wind instruments. Masks should be worn when students are not playing the wind instrument.
    • Wind instruments are permitted outdoors in mixed cohorts with physical distancing between students and staff.
    • Singing is permitted indoors. Masking and physical distance is recommended for singing indoors.
    • If wind instruments are shared, proper sanitization should occur between use. 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.
    • See COVID-19 instrument cleaning guidelines for more information.
Extra-curricular activities including clubs, bands (with the exception of wind and brass instruments) and sports with mixed cohorts
  • Recommending the gradual return of such activities with considerations for the following:
    • Individuals from different schools and mixed cohorts limit interactions to the outdoors.
    • Attendance records required for contact tracing purposes.
    • Confirmation of daily screening by all participants, staff and volunteers.
  • High-contact and high intensity activities are only recommended outdoors at this time. Masking is not required when participating in high intensity activities outdoors. Masks and physical distancing should be considered when possible.
  • Low contact and low intensity activities are permitted indoors. Masking and physical distancing is required for indoor activities.
  • The use of wind instruments are permitted within a class cohort in a music program, if a minimum of 2 metres/six feet or more can be maintained between each person. However, if wind instrument are being used as part of an extra- curricular activity such as a band, with mixed cohorts, they are only recommended to do so outdoors with physical distancing between students and staff.
  • Guidelines should be developed to limit the number of clubs/extracurricular activities/cohorts a student can participate in at any one time
  • The gradual return of extra-curricular activities should begin with students 12 years of age and older (those eligible to receive COVID-19 vaccination)
  • Guidelines should be developed for spectators to limit the spread of COVID-19.
Before and after school programs
School pictures
  • Student pictures indoors are permitted with the current regulations though outdoors is preferred. The requirements under the regulations must be followed. If taking pictures indoors, choose a large room with good ventilation, and follow these measures:
    • There should be two metres/six feet or more between the client and photographer at all times.
    • Clean and disinfect surfaces that are touched between cohorts.
    • To reduce movement in the room, the photographer should organize their equipment/lighting, etc. before calling in the student.
    • The photographer and any assistants should wear a medical mask (and consider a face shield).
    • Students should keep their mask on until the actual photo shoot.
    • The photo shoot with each student should be kept as short as possible (less than 15 minutes).
    • If a cap and gown are used, they must either be purchased for personal use or they must be laundered between uses. If they cannot be laundered they can be disinfected and/or quarantined for 72 hours between uses. Students can make their own scroll with a sheet of paper and ribbon. Consider other ways for students to make their own cap.
Field Trips
  • A gradual return of field trips can occur, when health and safety protocols including infection prevention and control procedures are well established in the schools, taking into consideration low risk activities and settings.
  • Field trips should only proceed when COVID-19 vaccine confirmation for volunteers is in place.
  • Encourage virtual field trips where possible.
  • Outdoor field trips are lower risk compared to indoor field trips.
  • Overnight field trips are not currently recommended.
  • The gradual return of field trips should begin with students 12 years of age and older (those eligible to receive COVID-19 vaccination)
  • or the duration of the trip, students should remain in their cohort or smaller groupings of their cohort, including during transportation.
  • Confirmation of daily screening should be completed before departure.
  • Pick-up/drop off of students should occur within a designated separate area.
  • To facilitate contact tracing, keep accurate records of all individuals entering the program setting which include, name, contact information, time of arrival/departure and screening completion.

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 and collaborating with community partners to deliver culturally relevant supports for students.
  • Promote resources to support the needs of students and families.
  • See School Mental Health Ontario for comprehensive back to school resources.

Plan for heat alert days and/or other inclement weather days

  • Make plans for days when the school may be hot and without air conditioning.
  • Using face masks during periods of extreme heat may be difficult.
  • Consider holding classes outdoors in shaded tents or in areas where ventilation is improved, and where physical distancing can be maintained, so that masks can be removed. If using a tent, ensure all four sides are open to maximize airflow. Masks or face coverings are required if physical distancing cannot be maintained.
  • Consider cancelling classes during heat alerts for schools without air conditioning due to the reduced ability for students and staff to properly wear a mask while at school.
  • Develop plans and policies that may include pivoting to remote learning on inclement weather days.

Plan for Fire Drills with Public Health Measures

  • On September 4, 2020 The Ontario Fire Marshal issued a binding directive, Fire Marshal Directive 2020-001, Total Evacuation Fire Drills in Schools During the COVID-19 Pandemic, to assistants to the Fire Marshal. This directive provides flexibility during fire drills so that all occupants of the school do not need to evacuate simultaneously, to ensure COVID-19 physical distancing requirements are maintained. See the Memo for more information.
  • For the 2021-2022 school year, plan for procedures to conduct fire drills aligned with public health advice. There should be a continued flexible and balanced approach when conducting fire drills in schools.

Isolate students and staff that become ill while at school

Symptomatic students and staff
  • It is recommended that school staff and students with symptoms of COVID-19 get a COVID-19 test as soon as possible and self-isolate at home until their result is available. They should have a PCR test, which is a lab based test. COVID-19 tests are available at an assessment centre. COVID-19 take home test kits may be available at some schools. Rapid Antigen tests should not be used for anyone with symptoms. See COVID-19 Testing for JK-12 Students for more information about COVID-19 testing.
  • See the School Decision Guide for students and staff to determine when students/staff are required to go for testing, along with more information on guidance for symptomatic, students, staff and their household contacts.)
  • Students/staff who are COVID-19 positive cannot return to school until they are cleared by public health (typically 10 days after symptoms started).
  • Students/staff who test negative can return to school as long as they are afebrile and their symptoms are improving for 24 hours (48 hours for gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea/vomiting, diarrhea), and they are not required to isolate as a close contact of a positive case.
  • Students/staff who do not go for testing and who do not have an alternative diagnosis (i.e. a new or worsening symptom not related to an existing medical condition), must self-isolate for 10 days from the date their symptom(s) started. They may return to school after the 10 days if they do not have a fever (without taking medication) and their symptoms are improving for 24 hours (48 hours if gastrointestinal symptoms) as long as they pass the screening tool questions.
  • New colds or respiratory illnesses (flu, bronchitis or pneumonia) that present with similar symptoms to COVID-19 and can make a student/staff sick. An individual who is sick with respiratory symptoms should stay home and get tested for COVID-19 or speak to their health care provider.
  • If the student aged 12 years and older has symptoms of a mild headache, tiredness, sore muscles or joints that occur within 48 hours after getting a COVID-19 vaccine, they can still attend school and wear a properly fitted mask. If their symptoms last longer than 48 hours or worsen, they are to stay home, self-isolate and get tested.
  • If any other household member has COVID-19 symptoms, and the student is not fully vaccinated with a COVID-19 vaccine or previously positive for COVID-19 in the last 90 days and have been cleared, they are to self-isolate until the household member tests negative. If the household member has symptoms of a mild headache, tiredness, sore muscles or joints that occur within 48 hours after getting a COVID-19 vaccine, the student/staff does not need to self-isolate.
  • Staff who become ill with symptoms should be sent home immediately, and directed to this webpage to learn what to do next. They should not use public transportation.
  • Using age appropriate and non-stigmatizing language, ensure students know how to identify symptoms of COVID-19, and that they should tell a staff member immediately if they feel ill.
  • If a parent of a student receives a positive test for COVID-19, they are not obligated to inform the school of their test result though it is strongly recommended. If they do, and their child/children is/are in school and not fully vaccinated with a COVID-19 vaccine, student(s) should be separated from the rest of their group in a designated room and supervised until they are picked up. If the parent is symptomatic, and the student is not fully vaccinated with a COVID-19 vaccine, the student will need to remain home from school while the parent awaits test results.

Students who become ill with symptoms while in school should be separated immediately from the rest of their cohort in a designated room and supervised until they are picked-up. 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. Siblings who live in the same household should be sent home as well if they are not fully vaccinated with a COVID-19 vaccine.

  • 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 and 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 it can be done so safely.
  • Students should wear a mask (if tolerated) and they are able to use it properly (e.g. donning and doffing carefully, avoiding touching while on).
  • Staff supervising the ill student should maintain physical distancing as best as possible, and wear PPE, including a medical mask and face shield.
  • Clean and disinfect the area immediately after the student with symptoms has been sent home. Before the room is cleaned, place a sign on the door indicating that it cannot be used. Remove the sign once the room is cleaned.
High risk contacts of a case
  • School staff and students exposed to a confirmed case of COVID-19 will be advised by public health. Public health will complete a risk assessment and determine who had close contact/high risk exposure. Close contacts who are not fully vaccinated with a COVID-19 vaccine,* or have not tested positive for COVID-19 in the last 90 days and been cleared by public health will be excluded from the school setting for 10 days. For school exposures, if there is a known source of exposure, the isolation period should generally be counted from the day of last known exposure to the confirmed case. If the source of exposure is unknown, the isolation period should begin from the last exposure to the cohort. Public health will provide the return to school date for the impacted cohort(s). . If they had close contact:
    • These individuals must self-isolate at home and monitor for symptoms for the next 10 days. They should monitor for all COVID-19 symptoms including: fever or chills; cough; trouble breathing; decrease or loss of taste or smell; nausea, vomiting or diarrhea; tired, sore muscles or joints; sore throat; runny or stuffy nose, abdominal pain, headache, pink eye; or a decrease or lack of appetite.
    • Individuals who have been exposed to a case of COVID-19 should get tested as soon as any symptoms develop.
    • Individuals who have been exposed to a case of COVID-19 and who do not have symptoms are encouraged to get tested with a PCR test. Do not use a Rapid Antigen Test.
      • For asymptomatic high-risk contacts who are not fully immunized PCR testing is recommended immediately and on or after day 7 of their isolation period.
      • Asymptomatic high-risk contacts who are fully immunized with a COVID-19 vaccine may not be required to self-isolate, but should monitor for symptoms.  They are recommended to go for PCR testing immediately and after seven days. They will not be required to isolate while awaiting test results.
      • Close contacts without symptoms who have tested positive for COVID-19 in the last 90 days and cleared by public health may not be required to self-isolate, but they should monitor for symptoms. They are recommended to go for testing only if they develop symptoms.
    • Individuals who do not have symptoms and have been exposed to a confirmed case of COVID-19, and are fully vaccinated, may not need to self-isolate. Individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19 in the last 90 days and been cleared by public health may not need to self-isolate.
  • School staff and students who are being managed by TPH (e.g. cases of COVID-19, close contacts of cases) must follow TPH instructions to determine when to return to the school:
    • School staff must also report to their occupational health and safety department prior to return to work when applicable.
    • Clearance tests are not required for staff or students to return to the school.
  • Students and staff who receive an alert from the COVID-19 app indicating that they have been exposed to a COVID-19 positive case, should go for testing and follow the instructions on the app. They may need to self- isolate until they receive their results.
    • If public health has not notified the individual they are a close contact of a positive case and they test negative, they can return to work/school.
    • If they test positive, they are to self-isolate for 10 days.
  • Please review TPH’s COVID-19 School Decision Guides for students, staff for more information on symptomatic individuals and their household contacts, and information on close contacts of positive cases.
  • The Ministry of Health has also released COVID-19 Guidance: School Case, Contact, and Outbreak Management for local public health units investigating cases, outbreaks and suspected outbreaks associated with elementary and secondary (K-12) school settings.
  • Principals informed of a laboratory confirmed positive COVID-19 case should report it to Toronto Public Health, and while they are waiting to be contacted by a Communicable Disease Investigator they should follow the (TPH) COVID-19 Decision Guide for Principals to Dismiss Cohorts to Self-Isolate and Collecting and Using COVID-19 Vaccination Status to Assist with Interim Cohort Dismissals.
  • School boards must report on a daily basis any confirmed cases of COVID-19within schools to the Ministry of Education via the school absence online reporting tool (ART).

Report COVID-19 cases and outbreaks to Toronto Public Health

  • Schools must immediately report any laboratory confirmed cases of COVID-19 among staff or students to TPH through the COVID-19 reporting survey at: https://tphsurvey.chkmkt.com/COVID19SchoolReporting
  • Do not report positive test results for rapid antigen tests. Positive rapid antigen testing should be followed up with a PCR test.  Only laboratory confirmed cases are to be reported.
  • You will need to have the following information available.
    • Name of school, address
    • Name of school contact and phone number and email
    • Name of ill staff/student
    • Contact information for staff/student (Parent name if student is under age 14), (phone number, address, and, if possible, date of birth)
    • Onset date of symptoms
    • Last day at school
    • Lab confirmed Y/N
    • Who reported the case to the school
    • Any other ill staff or student reports.
  • An outbreak in a school is defined as two or more lab-confirmed COVID-19 cases in students and/or staff in a school with an epidemiological link, within a 14 day period, where one case could have reasonably acquired their infection in a school (including transportation and before or after school care).

Communicate with students, families/guardians and other stakeholders

  • Develop and implement communication platforms to provide program information and protocols on health and safety measures (e.g. screening practices, physical distancing, staying home if you’re sick). Communication platforms may include the websites, email, or social media accounts.
  • Telephone or video conferencing is still preferred when possible for meetings between school staff and parents/guardians.
    • Toronto Public Health will advise if a class, cohort or a school should be closed for a period of time. Parents, students and staff will be notified immediately.
  • Communicate with stakeholders (e.g. child care programs, community programs that operate in shared spaces within the school) on a routine basis to provide updates about policies and procedures and to align any gaps or concerns about IPAC practices.
  • Toronto Public Health will provide further advice about information that should be shared with other staff and parents/guardians in the event there is a case or outbreak of COVID-19 in the school setting.
  • Encourage families to go the Toronto Public Health COVID-19 School Information for Parents and Caregivers web page for more information on COVID-19.
  • To get the latest updates on the status of COVID-19 in our city from a trusted source, encourage schools, parents and caregivers that have a Facebook, Instagram or Twitter to follow TPH on Facebook , Twitter and Instagram, and like, share, or retweet TPH messages on your school pages.

Workplace Health and Safety

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 (also available in French).

For general COVID- 19 inquiries:

  • Call the Toronto Public Health Hotline: 416-338-7600
  • Or visit our website:
    • For general information: toronto.ca/COVID19
    • For school information: toronto.ca/COVID19SchoolInfo

To report confirmed student or staff COVID-19 cases:

Please fill out the COVID-19 School Reporting Notification Tool.

You will be asked to include the following information:

  • Name of school
  • Name, role and contact info of person making the report
  • First name, last name and contact info of ill staff/student (including date of birth)
  • Onset date of symptoms
  • Last day that the ill staff/student was at school

To report non-COVID-19 reportable communicable diseases:

  • Call the Communicable Disease Surveillance Unit Information Line: 416-392-7411, Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
  • Or go to our 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 (also available in French).

COVID-19 Vaccination Policy

Toronto Public Health encourages schools and School Boards to develop a COVID-19 vaccination policy for staff and students. Schools and School Boards should consider including the voluntary disclosure of vaccination status by all staff and students in their COVID-19 vaccination policy to ensure staff/students who are fully vaccinated are not dismissed from school in the event of an interim cohort dismissal when there is exposure to COVID-19 in the school setting.

Definition of “Fully Vaccinated” with a COVID-19 Vaccine

In Ontario, you are considered “fully vaccinated” if you have received: (i) The full series of a COVID-19 vaccine authorized by Health Canada, or any combination of such vaccines (for example, Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca), (ii) One or two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine not authorized by Health Canada, followed by one dose of a COVID-19 mRNA vaccine authorized by Health Canada, or (iii) Three doses of a COVID-19 vaccine not authorized by Health Canada. In all scenarios, you must have received your final dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at least 14 days ago.

Why Collect Information on COVID-19 Vaccination?

Staff/students who do not have symptoms and are fully vaccinated with a COVID-19 vaccine may not be required to self-isolate as a close contact of a COVID-19 case. Principals are recommended to follow Toronto Public Health’s COVID-19 Decision Guide for Principals to Dismiss Cohorts to Self-isolate, which explains when to dismiss affected cohorts while allowing those who are fully vaccinated to continue to attend school as long as they have no symptoms. Fully vaccinated staff and students will still have to pass the COVID-19 screening tool each day, confirming they do not have symptoms.

Collecting and Verifying COVID-19 Vaccination Status

Schools should consider asking for vaccination status through a vaccination receipt. Where a vaccination receipt is not available, for example if vaccination occurred outside of Ontario, schools should consider using a form that includes the name, address and telephone number of the student, asks if they have received a full course of a vaccine, what vaccine it was and the date or dates of vaccination depending on whether the vaccine was a two-dose or one-dose vaccine series. See Appendix A for a sample template.

COVID-19 vaccination status is personal health information and schools should seek their own legal advice about collecting, storing and using this personal health information in accordance with relevant legislation. This includes any forms used to collect the personal health information.

Obtaining a Vaccination Receipt

Staff/students can download COVID-19 vaccine receipts for Ontario vaccinations on the Government of Ontario’s website.

If vaccinations were received outside of Ontario, staff/students who live in Toronto can document their vaccine(s) through Toronto Public Health’s online portal.

Report COVID-19 Cases and Outbreaks to Toronto Public Health

Schools are still required to immediately report any laboratory confirmed cases of COVID-19 among staff or students to Toronto Public Health through the COVID-19 reporting survey.

Toronto Public Health Investigation of Cases and Outbreaks

Toronto Public Health will continue to investigate all positive cases of COVID-19 related to a school, to notify their close contacts of self-isolation requirements, if any, through a letter, as well as advising the Principal of next steps. In addition to the vaccine status information being used by Principals for interim cohort dismissals, Toronto Public Health may require schools to provide this information to it for the purposes of timely case, contact, and outbreak management under the Health Protection and Promotion Act.

For more information


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

 

Screening Poster for Child Care, Day Camps and Schools

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

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

screenshot of child care screening questionnaire

 

Screening Questionnaire for Child Care, Day Camps and Schools

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

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

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

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

Also available in French

screenshot of screening pposter for child care/school staff/visitors

 

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

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

Also available in French

screenshot of screening questionnaire for child care/school staff/visitors

 

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, they are asked to consider the following to help determine which symptoms may require COVID-19 testing:

Daily COVID-19 Symptom Screening List:

Does the individual have one or more of the following new or worsening symptoms?

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

If a child/student has any of the above new or worsening symptoms, not related to other known causes or conditions they already have, they should stay home and arrange to get tested. A child/student who is ill or has multiple symptoms of illness that could be COVID-19 should be tested for COVID-19 or seek assessment from their health care provider.

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.

Nausea, vomiting and/or diarrhea

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

Full COVID-19 symptom list:

Watch closely for any symptom of COVID-19 and get tested, especially if a close contact of someone who tested positive. The full list of symptoms includes: fever or chills; cough; trouble breathing; decrease or loss of taste or smell; nausea, vomiting or diarrhea; tired, sore muscles or joints; sore throat; runny or stuffy nose, abdominal pain, headache, pink eye; or a decrease or lack of appetite.

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, PCR testing is recommended.

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. student does not have COVID-19, but has diarrhea or a cough).
  • Medical notes indicating that symptoms have improved and the child/student can return to school without diagnosing a condition not related to COVID-19 (e.g. child/student had diarrhea, symptoms have improved and they can return to school).
  • New colds or respiratory illnesses (flu, bronchitis or pneumonia) that present with similar symptoms to COVID-19 and can make a child/student sick. A child/student who is sick with respiratory symptoms should stay home and get tested for COVID-19 or speak to their health care provider.

Back to 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 doctor notes for return to child care or school.

For more information, please review:


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

Read Toronto Public Health’s guidance for student nutrition programs.

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.

We all need to wear masks to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in our community. It is important to find a mask that fits well and allows you to breathe easily.

When wearing a mask, some children may occasionally breathe through their mouth, leading to dry mouth.  Encourage frequent mask breaks throughout the day.

Practice good oral hygiene by:

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

To prevent dry mouth follow these tips:

  • Drink water more often.
  • Chew sugarless gum to increase the flow of saliva.
  • Avoid salty foods, dry foods and sugary food and drinks.
  • Adults should avoid drinking alcohol, smoking, and vaping.

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 online here.

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

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).

Below are links to resources that may be helpful for school administrators, parents/caregivers and students in JK to Grade 12. 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.

Source

Resource Link

Target Audience

TPH COVID-19 Contact List for Schools – How to report a positive case:
Toronto Public Health TPH COVID-19 Contact List for Schools Staff and admin for JK-12 schools
Fact Sheets/Information Sheets/Apps:
Toronto Public Health COVID-19 Fact Sheet Staff and admin for JK-12 schools
Toronto Public Health  

COVID-19 Guidance for Schools JK to Grade 12

Staff and admin for JK-12 schools
Toronto Public Health COVID-19 Decision Tool for School Students Staff and admin for JK-12 schools
Toronto Public Health COVID-19 Decision Tool for School Staff and Visitors Staff and admin for JK-12 schools
Toronto Public Health COVID-19 Decision Guide for Principals to Dismiss Cohorts to Self-Isolate Admin for JK-12 schools
Toronto Public Health COVID-19 Guidance for Schools: Collecting and Using COVID-19 Vaccination Status to Assist with Interim Cohort Dismissal Admin for JK-12 Schools
Toronto Public Health Back to Child Care/School Confirmation Form Parents for JK-12 students
Toronto Public Health Back to School Confirmation Form for Mature Minors/Adult Students Mature minors/adult students for JK-12 schools
Toronto Public Health Understanding COVID-19 Symptoms in Child Care Attendees and JK-12 Students Staff and parents/ caregivers of students in elementary and secondary schools
Toronto Public Health COVID-19 Testing for School Students and Staff JK-12 Staff and parents/ caregivers of students in elementary and secondary schools
Government of Canada COVID Alert app Staff and students in secondary schools
COVID-19 Vaccine Resources:
Toronto Public Health COVID-19 Vaccine Resources (available in multiple languages) Staff and parents/ caregivers of students in elementary and secondary schools
Toronto Public Health COVID-19 Vaccine Resource List for Youth Students 12-17 years old
Toronto Public Health COVID-19 Vaccines (webpage) Staff and parents/ caregivers of students in elementary and secondary schools
Toronto Public Health Information on COVID-19 vaccines and children Staff and parents/ caregivers of students in elementary and secondary schools
Hand Hygiene/Respiratory Etiquette:
Toronto Public Health Clean Hands Kit resource package Students in grades 4-6
Health Canada Hand washing heroes (video) Students in grades JK-3
Health Canada Coughing and sneezing hygiene for kids (video) Students in grades JK-3
Face Coverings/Masks:
City of Toronto Proper use of a cloth face mask (video) Staff and students in elementary and secondary schools
City of Toronto How to wear a mask at school Staff and students in elementary and secondary schools
City of Toronto Helping children wear masks Parents/Caregivers, staff and students in elementary  schools
City of Toronto 5 Things to remember about face masks and coverings (video) Staff and students in elementary and secondary schools
Toronto Public Health How to safely wear a cloth mask or face covering Staff and students in elementary and secondary schools
Toronto Public Health Dos and don’ts of wearing a mask Staff and students in elementary and secondary schools
Toronto Public Health Face Mask and Coverings Offer Best Protection Staff and students in elementary and secondary school
Posters/Infographics:
City of Toronto Physical Distancing Staff and admin in elementary and secondary schools to use as needed
City of Toronto Protect Yourself Staff and admin in elementary and secondary schools to use as needed
City of Toronto Cover your Cough Staff and admin in elementary and secondary schools to use as needed
Toronto Public Health Water Filling Station Staff and admin in elementary and secondary schools to use as needed
Toronto Public Health Wash your Hands Staff and admin in elementary and secondary schools to use as needed
Toronto Public Health How the Virus can Spread Staff and admin in elementary and secondary schools to use as needed
Toronto Public Health Hand Washing Poster Staff and admin in elementary and secondary schools to use as needed
Toronto Public Health Hand Sanitizing Poster Staff and admin in elementary and secondary schools to use as needed
Toronto Public Health Cover Your Cough Poster Staff and admin in elementary and secondary schools to use as needed
Videos:  
Toronto Public Health and Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Raptors Head Coach Nick Nurse & TPH’s Dr. Vinita Dubey on staying healthy in unprecedented times (video) Students and staff in elementary and secondary schools
Toronto Public Health and Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Toronto Maple Leafs’ Zach Hyman & TPH’s Dr. Vinita Dubey on why we need to watch our distance (video) Students and staff in elementary and secondary schools
Toronto Public Health and Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Toronto FC Captain Michael Bradley & TPH’s Dr. Vinita Dubey on wearing your mask at school (video) Students and staff in elementary and secondary schools
Screening Posters/Questionnaires:
Toronto Public Health Screening Questionnaire for JK-12 Students  Students and staff in elementary and secondary schools
Toronto Public Health Screening Poster for JK-12 Students Students and staff in elementary and secondary schools
Toronto Public Health Screening Questionnaire for School Staff and Visitors Students and staff in elementary and secondary schools
Toronto Public Health Screening Poster for School Staff and Visitors Students and staff in elementary and secondary schools
Mental Health:
City of Toronto Self Care Tips for Managing Stress and Anxiety Students and staff in elementary and secondary schools
City of Toronto COVID-19 Mental Health Support Students and staff in elementary and secondary schools
Toronto Public Health COVID-19 Mental Health Resources Students and staff in elementary and secondary schools
Toronto Public Health Taking Care of Your Mental Health and Well-Being (infographic) Students and staff in elementary and secondary schools
Government of Ontario Mental Health, Wellness and Addictions Support Students and staff in elementary and secondary schools
School Mental Health Ontario School Mental Health Ontario Students and staff in elementary and secondary schools
Parents and Families:
City of Toronto Helping your child wear a mask at school (video) Parents/caregivers of students in elementary and secondary schools
Toronto Public Health COVID-19 School Protocol Parents/caregivers of students in elementary and secondary schools
Toronto Public Health A Parent’s Guide if your Child is a Close Contact of a Person with COVID-19 Parents/caregivers of students in elementary and secondary schools
Toronto Public Health What to Do if Your Child Has COVID-19 Symptoms Parents/caregivers of students in elementary and secondary schools
Toronto Public Health Know When to Self-Monitor, Self-Isolate or Send your Child to School Parents/caregivers of students in elementary and secondary schools
Toronto Public Health Who is a Close Contact at School (infographic) Parents/caregivers of students in elementary and secondary schools
Toronto Public Health 10 Ways to Greet from 6 Feet (infographic) Parents/caregivers of students in elementary and secondary schools
School Mental Health Ontario COVID-19-Parents and Families Parents/caregivers of students in elementary and secondary schools
Children’s Mental Health Ontario COVID-19 Resources Parents/caregivers of students in elementary and secondary schools
Sick Kids About Kids Health-COVID-19 Parents/caregivers of students in elementary and secondary schools

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