How are schools going to deal with COVID-19 cases during the 2021-2022 school year?New

The government may change the following rules at any time. Contact your local public health unit to get the most up-to-date information for your area.

Students who have COVID-19 symptoms

Every day before going to school, students should screen for COVID-19 symptoms.

The Ontario government has an online screening tool. It includes the steps to take if a student has COVID-19 symptoms. Schools may offer other ways to screen, such as using a paper form.

If a student has any COVID-19 symptoms, they must not go to school. They can return to school only after they get a negative test result.

And even if they have a negative test, they can return only when:

  • they don't have a fever,
  • they have not had nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea for at least 48 hours, and
  • their other symptoms have been improving for at least 24 hours.

If a student with COVID-19 symptoms does not get tested, they must isolate for 10 days before returning to school.

Students who are exposed to COVID-19

In Ontario, children 12 and older can get the COVID-19 vaccine.

If students are fully vaccinated or have already had COVID-19

A student is fully vaccinated if they had their second dose of an approved COVID-19 vaccine at least 14 days ago.

If a fully vaccinated student knows they were exposed to COVID-19 and they do not have any COVID-19 symptoms, they can continue attending school. It's a good idea to get tested. But they don't have to.

If a fully vaccinated student knows they were exposed to COVID-19 and they have COVID-19 symptoms, they must stop attending school right away. They must get a negative test result and all of the following must be true before they can return to school:

  • they don't have a fever
  • they have not had nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea for at least 48 hours
  • their other symptoms have been improving for at least 24 hours.

These rules also apply to students who had COVID-19 within the last 90 days if a medical official has cleared them to start attending school again.

If students are not vaccinated or partially vaccinated

A student is partially vaccinated if:

If an unvaccinated or partially vaccinated student knows they were exposed to COVID-19, they must stop attending school right away. They must isolate for 10 days, even if they get a negative test result.

If the student wants to get tested, they should wait until at least 7 days since the day they were exposed. But even if the test is negative, they must continue isolating for the full 10 days.

Principal’s powers and responsibilities

A school principal can stop any student from coming to school if they think the student might have COVID-19.

Principals must do what they can to make sure other students don't get COVID-19 or any other infectious disease. This means they can send a student home if they think that student would put other students' health at risk.

Role of the Medical Officer of Health

Principals must also follow the orders of the Medical Officer of Health in their area. Each public health unit in Ontario has its own Medical Officer of Health who can make orders about how to deal with very infectious diseases like COVID-19.

In some situations, a Medical Officer of Health may decide to send students home even if they're vaccinated and don't have any symptoms.

The Medical Officer of Health may also send an entire school home. For example, this might happen if there's an outbreak in many classes.

Or, they may send students home from just one class. For example, this might happen if a student gets COVID-19 and many of their classmates are not vaccinated.

Contact your local public health unit for any specific questions about COVID-19 orders in your area.

Student privacy

Medical information and student information are usually kept private. But the law is different for COVID-19.

School principals must tell the Medical Officer of Health about any students who they believe have COVID-19.

Schools must also share information with public health units to help them identify any students who may have been exposed to COVID-19. This includes attendance records, class lists, seating charts, school bus lists, and contact information for parents.

The principal should tell staff, students, and parents if there's a confirmed case of COVID-19 at the school. But they should not give the name of the person who tested positive.

Anyone who thinks that their privacy has been violated can complain to the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario.

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