What measures are public schools taking to keep students safe from COVID-19?

The Ontario government has allowed schools to reopen as long as everyone follow health and safety protocols.

Do students have to go back in-person?

School boards across the province have implemented several safety measures to ensure the safety of everyone going to school. However, families who do not feel comfortable sending their children back to school in person have the option of learning remotely. 

The Ontario government has also collected many resources for students according to their grade level, as well as for parents and caregivers to help youth learn at home. 

What health and safety measures are schools implementing for COVID-19?

The province has mandated several health and safety protocols for us to follow as schools reopen. School boards, administrators, teachers, students, and parents must all work together to make in-person learning during COVID-19 safe. 

Schools are required to make a number of changes to protect staff and students from COVID-19 including:

  • Installing hand sanitizing stations at entrances, exits, and classrooms
  • Training students on appropriate hygiene and respiratory etiquette
  • Putting up age-appropriate posters around the school to remind everyone of hygiene and respiratory etiquette  
  • Arranging furniture and schedule movement (e.g., transitions and breaks) to allow for physical distancing 
  • Enhancing cleaning program, especially in consideration of high touch surfaces

All staff and students at school must wear masks indoors. School staff and visitors are required to wear medical masks, which will be provided by school boards. Students must wear non-medical or cloth masks and are expected to bring their own. 

In addition, everyone must self-screen every day before coming to school. Your school will give you a daily checklist, but you can also check out the province’s screening tool to determine if you should go to school or not.

Education workers, including teachers and administrative staff, who are not vaccinated must get rapid antigen tests to screen for COVID-19 twice a week. 

Students in elementary school will learn in cohorts with one teacher, and students in secondary school will only take two courses per semester or study in “quadmesters”to limit their interactions with people. 

What happens if someone at school falls ill?

Anyone who gets sick at school will:

  • be separated from others until they can go home
  • given a medical mask
  • not be able to take school or public transport

Students do not need to provide a doctor’s note or proof of a negative test result to return to school. However, everyone must follow public health guidelines and self-screen everyday for symptoms before coming to school. 

Your school will declare an outbreak when:

  • There are two or more confirmed COVID-19 cases within a 14-day period 
  • At least one of the cases could have been infected in school or on a school bus

If an outbreak is declared, your school administrators and school board will figure out how to contain the outbreak and keep others from getting sick. No personal information will be made public. Notices of any closures will be posted on school websites and parents, students, and staff will be notified immediately.