The Government of Ontario, in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, has made the decision to move elementary and secondary schools to remote learning. Boards will make provisions for continued in-person support for students with special education needs who require additional support that cannot be accommodated through remote learning.


Last updated: June 24, 2021 at 6:35 p.m.

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

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

Also read Toronto Public Health’s follow-up instructions for school children, staff and visitors tested for COVID-19, guidance for caring for a child who is self-isolating or has COVID-19, and information on understanding COVID-19 symptoms in students.

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

Notification

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

Contact tracing

Toronto Public Health will follow up with the person who tested positive in a school setting to find out where they may have gotten the infection, and who they may have exposed to the virus. Toronto Public Health will work with the school to find out who they were in contact with at the school while they were contagious. When a person with COVID-19 is first identified all students in the same class cohort will likely be told to self-isolate at home. This may change as Toronto Public Health finds out more information through the investigation.

If the source of the infection was outside of the school, and the person was not contagious while they were at school, then the class cohort will not need to self-isolate.

Principal can dismiss cohorts

Once a principal finds out about someone who tested positive for COVID-19, they will dismiss the class, bus or before/after school cohort if the person was at school while they were contagious, as instructed by Toronto Public Health. Once the investigation has been completed, Toronto Public Health may allow some of those cohorts back to school if the risk to the cohort is low.

Self-monitoring and self-isolation

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

  • Stay home and self-isolate for 14 days.
  • Monitor for symptoms of COVID-19.
  • Get tested if symptoms develop or as directed by Toronto Public Health.
  • Get tested even if they do not have symptoms.
  • Their siblings will also need to stay at home for the full self-isolation period.

If Toronto Public Health determines that the students or staff did not have close contact with the person who had COVID-19, they and their siblings will be allowed to return the classroom.

Other students in the school should also monitor for symptoms if there is a positive case in the school. They do not need to self-isolate unless Toronto Public Health has told them they are a close contact.

Self-isolation time periods

The incubation period for COVID-19 is 14 days, and so if you were a close contact you must self-isolate for 14 days as that is how long it can take to develop symptoms. People with COVID-19 are infectious for 10 days. So if you have tested positive for COVID-19 you need to self-isolate for 10 days. However, if you were hospitalized or have a weak immune system, you may need to self-isolate for a longer period of time.

Safe return to school

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

Declaring an outbreak

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


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

If someone at school tests positive for COVID-19, parents will be notified. Not all students will be at-risk for potential infection. If your child is not a close contact, they don’t have to self-isolate. Monitor your child for symptoms for 14 days.

Monitor your child for any new or worsening symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Loss of taste or smell

Other symptoms include:

  • Sore throat or painful swallowing
  • Stuffy/runny nose
  • Headache
  • Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea
  • Feeling unwell, muscle aches, feeling tired

Encourage everyone in your household to:

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

If your child develops symptoms:

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

When visiting your health care provider or going to an assessment centre, try not to use public transit. If you use a taxi or ride share, wear a mask, sit in the back seat and keep the windows open.


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

If your child has one or more (new or worsening) symptoms of COVID-19, they should stay at home, self-isolate, and get tested.

Call your child’s school to let them know that your child has COVID-19 symptoms.

Get tested

  • Contact your child’s health care provider if you have questions about testing.
  • Make an appointment at an Assessment Centre near you to get tested. Children can get a throat or nose swab. Saliva tests are also available.
  • Drive your child to the assessment centre if you can. Do not use public transit. Ask for a ride, or use a taxi or ride share. Wear a mask, sit in the back seat, and keep the windows open.

Household members

  • The siblings or children in the same household as the child with symptoms also must stay home and self-isolate.
  • Adults who attend the school setting must also self-isolate.
  • If any adult in the household develops symptoms they must stay home, self-isolate and get tested.
  • If the child with symptoms was a close contact of someone with COVID-19, everyone in the home needs to stay home and self-isolate for 14 days.

Check your child’s test results

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

If your child tests negative for COVID-19:

  • Your child may return to school if it has been 24 hours since their symptoms started improving.
  • Siblings or adults who attend the school setting may return to school right away, as long as they pass the screening questions.
  • Young children may have ongoing mild symptoms, such as a runny nose. If it is not new or worse, they may go back to school if they don’t have other symptoms.

If your child tests positive for COVID-19:

  • Your child must stay home and self-isolate for 10 days from the day the symptoms started.
  • Household members and close contacts must also self-isolate for at least 14 days.
  • Let your school know that your child tested positive for COVID-19.
  • Toronto Public Health will contact you to do an investigation and with further instructions.

Not tested

  • If your child did not have a COVID-19 test, they must stay home and self-isolate for 10 days from the day the symptoms began. Even if their symptoms improve, they must stay home for 10 days.
  • All household members who go to a school must also self-isolate. If your child was symptomatic and a close contact of a positive case, all the children and adults in your household must stay home and self-isolate for 14 days.
  • If the child was symptomatic and not a close contact of a positive case, the siblings and adults who attend the school setting must stay home and self-isolate for 14 days.

Sick for other reasons

  • Sometimes children are sick for other reasons. If your health care provider has said your child’s symptoms are not related to COVID-19, your child may return to school 24 hours after their symptoms have improved.
  • Siblings and adults who attend the school setting can also return to school.
  • For colds or respiratory symptoms, your health care provider cannot rule out COVID-19 without a test. Toronto Public Health does not recommend using a medical note to confirm this.

Have questions?

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


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

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

What if…

Julia has symptoms of COVID-19:

  • Julia must stay home, self-isolate, and arrange to get tested.
  • Julia’s siblings and adult family members who attend a school setting must also stay home and self-isolate until COVID-19 is ruled out.
  • Julia can return to school if her test is negative, and her symptoms have been improving for at least 24 hours.
  • Julia’s siblings and adult family members who attend a school setting can return to school if Julia tests negative.

Abishola has symptoms and tests positive for COVID-19:

  • Abishola must stay home and self-isolate for 10 days from the day her symptoms started.
  • Everyone in Abishola’s household must stay home and self-isolate for at least 14 days.
  • A parent should notify the school of the positive test result. The principal will dismiss Abishola’s class. Public Health will contact the family with further instructions.

Bao-Lee has symptoms of COVID-19, is not a close contact of a positive case and did not go for testing:

  • Bao-Lee, must stay home and self-isolate for 10 days from when his symptoms started.
  • His siblings and adult family members in the household who attend a school setting must stay home and self-isolate for 14 days.
  • After 10 days, Bao-Lee, may go back to school if his symptoms are improving.
  • Adults and children in his household that attend a school setting can return back to school after 14 days, if they do not have any symptoms.

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

  • Abdul must stay home, self-isolate and follow public health advice.
  • Abdul’s siblings must stay home for Abdul’s 14 day self-isolation period.
  • Adults may go to school or work if they do not have symptoms.
  • If Abdul develops symptoms, everyone else in his household must stay home and self-isolate. Abdul should go for testing.
  • If Abdul’s test is negative, his siblings still need to stay home for Abdul’s isolation period. All adults in the household can return to school/work if they do not have symptoms. Even if Abdul tests negative, he must complete his 14 days of self-isolation before he returns to school as that is how long it can take for symptoms to appear.

Berta’s mom was in close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19:

  • Berta’s mom must stay home, self-isolate for 14 days, and arrange to get tested.
  • Berta and her siblings must stay home from school for the full time of her mother’s 14 day isolation period.
  • If Berta’s mom develops symptoms of COVID-19 while she is self-isolating, everyone in her household will have to self-isolate until her mother’s test rules out COVID-19.

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

  • Jackson’s dad must stay home and self-isolate for 14 days, preferably in a separate room from others in the house.
  • Jackson, his siblings and any adults who attend a school setting, must also stay home for the full 14 day travel quarantine period.
  • If Jackson’s dad develops symptoms, he should get tested.
  • Jackson and everyone else in his household will have to stay home and self-isolate for 14 days if Jackson’s dad tests positive for COVID-19.

Download this information as a PDF (also available in Arabic | Bengali | Simplified Chinese | Traditional ChineseCzech | Farsi | French | Gujarati | Hindi | Pashto |  Russian | Slovak | SpanishTagalog | Tamil Urdu).

When should you get tested?

If you have symptoms of COVID-19

Get tested if you have 1 or more new or worsening COVID-19 symptoms at an assessment centre or take-home test kit (if available at your school).

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

  • Toronto Public Health (TPH) will provide a letter with the date to get tested – on day 7 or later after your exposure to the person who was positive.
  • Testing may be organized for the class at the closest assessment centre, on-site at the school, or through take-home test kits.
  • If you have symptoms, get tested right away.

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

  • School-wide testing helps with a COVID-19 investigation at the school.
  • Testing may be organized at the closest assessment centre, on-site testing at the school, or through take-home test kits.

If early identification testing is available and you have no symptoms

  • Testing may be arranged by the school and the provincial Ministry of Education for publicly-funded schools.
  • Testing is conducted at a “hub” school and is open to other schools.

What to expect when going for testing?

  • The student and/or parent/guardian may be asked to fill out a form with name, date of birth, etc.
  • A health card is not needed to get tested.

Types of COVID-19 tests

PCR Test (Polymerase Chain Reaction Test)

  • Used for people with symptoms or who are close contacts of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.
  • Samples can be collected in different ways:
    • Nasopharyngeal (NP) swab: inserted deep into the nasal cavity.
    • Mouth/nose swab: inside of the mouth and front of the nose.
    • Saliva test: bottle is used to collect saliva. Used for children or when the other collection type is not possible or tolerated. It is only available at some testing centres.

Rapid Antigen Test

  • Used for people who do not have symptoms and who are not close contacts of someone with COVID-19.
  • A swab is taken from the nose or throat.
  • Results are returned quickly – as fast as 15 minutes.
  • If results are positive, a confirmation PCR test is needed.

Antibody Testing

  • This is a blood test.
  • Looks for protective antibodies from a previous COVID-19 infection.
  • Not widely available in Ontario.

What happens after testing?

For more information, please read the Follow-up instructions for school children, staff and visitors tested for COVID-19.

More information


Download this information 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 French
screenshot of screening poster for child care, day camps and schools

Screening Questionnaire for Child Care, Day Camps and Schools

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

Also available in French

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

 

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

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

Also available in French

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

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 poster for staff and visitors to child care, day camps and schools

 

 

Toronto Public Health provides free immunization to Grade 7 and 8 students for the following vaccines:

  • Meningococcal-ACYW, to prevent meningitis
  • Human papillomavirus, to prevent certain cancers
  • Hepatitis-B, to prevent liver cancer

This year, Toronto Public Health will offer free immunizations through community clinics. Students who missed their vaccinations last year due to school closures are still eligible for the free vaccines.

Parents can visit tphbookings.ca to make an appointment  for their child to be vaccinated at a public health clinic beginning in January 2021, or ask their health care provider to order the vaccines from Toronto Public Health.

Toronto Public Health’s review of immunization records for all students is cancelled for the 2020-2021 school year. Routine vaccinations are an essential health service, and are available from a student’s health care provider. Vaccines provide individuals with protection from non-COVID-19 diseases. Students visiting their health care providers for scheduled or urgent visits should not delay vaccinations at this time.

Read Toronto Public Health’s September 9, 2020 letter to parents and guardians for more information about school health services during COVID-19.

Overview of COVID-19 & Protective Health Measures

COVID-19 & Public Health Measures in Schools

COVID-19 & Daily Student Screening

COVID-19 & Physical Distancing

COVID-19 & Hand Hygiene

COVID-19 & Face Masks

 

 

 

 

 

Below are links to resources that may be helpful for parents/caregivers and students in JK to Grade 12. Please check the links often as the information is updated on a regular basis.

Resource Type & Source Resource Link
City of Toronto (video) Helping your child wear a mask at school
City of Toronto How to wear a mask at school (infographic)
City of Toronto Helping children wear masks (infographic)
Toronto Public Health COVID-19 School Protocol
Toronto Public Health How to Self-Monitor if Someone at School Tests Positive for COVID-19
Toronto Public Health What to Do if Your Child Has COVID-19 Symptoms
Toronto Public Health What Parents Need to Know if Someone at School Tests Positive for COVID-19 (infographic) (also available in French)
Toronto Public Health Who is a Close Contact at School (infographic) (also available in French and multiple languages)
Toronto Public Health Talking to Kids About Going Back to School (infographic) (also available in French)
Toronto Public Health Preparing Your Child for School (infographic) (also available in French)
Toronto Public Health 10 Ways to Greet from 6 Feet (infographic) (also available in French)
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)

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)

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)

Toronto Public Health and Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment

Toronto Argos PSA on why we need to stay home to keep our city safe (video)

School Mental Health Ontario COVID-19-Parents and Families  (also available in French)
Children’s Mental Health Ontario COVID-19 Resources
Sick Kids About Kids Health-COVID-19 (also available in French)

 

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

Read Toronto Public Health’s letters to parents:

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