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School Health Reference Guide


The Region of Peel School Health Reference Guide is a supplementary resource to relevant Peel and Dufferin-Peel school board policies. Refer to school board policy first if you have questions or concerns.

Managing and Preventing Communicable Disease in a School Setting

The Health Protection and Promotion Act

Under the Health Protection and Promotion Act, school administrators must report to the local Medical Officer of Health any person who, in their opinion, is or may be infected with a designated reportable, communicable disease. This ensures prompt and complete follow-up of suspected cases.

  • Section 22 (1): A Medical Officer of Health, in the circumstances mentioned in subsection (2), by a written order, may require a person to take or to refrain from taking any action that is specified in the order in respect of a communicable disease.
  • Section 28: The principal of a school who is of the opinion that a pupil in the school has or may have a communicable disease shall, as soon as possible after forming the opinion, report thereon to the Medical Officer of Health of the unit in which the school is located.
  • Section 39 (1): No person shall disclose to any other person the name of or any other information that will or is likely to identify a person in respect of whom an application, order, certificate, or report is made in respect of a communicable disease, a reportable disease, a virulent disease, or a reportable event following the administration of an immunizing agent.
  • Section 30 (2): Subsection (1), does not apply:
  1. Where the disclosure is made with the consent of the person in respect of whom the application, order, certificate or report is made.
  2. Where the disclosure is made for the purpose of public health administration.

This means that the health department may release, without consent, the name of a case of a reportable, communicable disease to the school administration for the purpose of identifying contacts of the case in the school.

The health department notifies the case that names will only be released as required for the safety of contacts.

The school administrator is advised by the health department of their obligation to maintain the confidentiality of the individual case and not to reveal their name or any other information that may identify the person.

Roles and Responsibilities
Role of Peel Public Health

Peel Public Health is responsible for the control of communicable diseases in the community, the incidence of which can be minimized, or prevented, through screening, education, immunization, treatment, and follow-up of cases and their contacts.

Communicable Diseases Division

The role of our Communicable Diseases (CD) Division is to provide health education and consultation to health department staff, community agencies, and health professionals in the control, treatment, and management of communicable diseases.

The CD Division also keeps statistics and records on reportable diseases according to the requirements of the Ministry of Health; orders and distributes free vaccine for vaccine preventable diseases, including hepatitis B; and distributes free anti-tuberculosis drugs.

If an outbreak of a disease occurs in Peel, in places such as hospitals, nursing homes, day cares, schools, or the community, the CD Division, in partnership with the Environmental Health Division, will ensure a quick response to control the outbreak.

Peel Public Health will provide:

  • Written information and consultation to schools to guide the management of communicable diseases and development of policies on management of sick children.
  • A list of designated reportable communicable diseases and a mechanism for reporting these diseases to the local Medical Officer of Health.
  • Exclusion and readmission guidelines for specific communicable diseases.
  • Information about illnesses/diseases.
  • Guidelines for the management of communicable disease outbreaks.
  • Guidelines for staff health requirements, including records of immunization and screening for tuberculosis.
  • Guidelines around infections of special concern to pregnant staff.
  • Telephone support to schools.
Role of the school
  • Develop written policies on:
    • Management of sick children
    • Management of infectious communicable diseases
    • Exclusion of sick children
  • Report designated communicable diseases and suspected outbreaks of communicable diseases to the Medical Officer of Health or designate at Peel Public Health as required under the Health Protection and Promotion Act.
  • Exclude children suspected to be/or confirmed sick with specific communicable diseases.

Next: Handling and Reporting Communicable Diseases

Preventing Infection in Schools

Children are susceptible to acquiring and spreading infectious illnesses. The average school-age child contracts four or more colds per year, with symptoms potentially lasting from 5 to 14 days1. There are strategies that can reduce the risk of transmission of infection in school settings. The following routine practices can help prevent illness and decrease related absenteeism of students and school staff. They include:

  • Cleaning hands often2
  • Covering coughs and sneezes
  • Staying home when ill
  • Getting the flu shot and routine scheduled immunizations
  • Cleaning the classroom and school environment

1Master D et al, Scheduled hand washing in an elementary school population. Family Medicine. 1997;29 (5):336-339. Ontario Agency for Health Protection and Promotion (Public Health Ontario)

2Guinan, Maryellen et al, The effect of a comprehensive hand washing program on absenteeism in elementary schools. AJIC: American Journal of Infection Control. 30(4):217-220, June 2002.

Next: The Health Protection and Promotion Act >>

Preventing Infection
Childhood Diseases and Illnesses chart
Tuberculosis (TB)
For more information on communicable disease resources and programs,
call Peel Public Health at 905-799-7700.(In Caledon, call 905-584-2216.)


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Revised: Monday January 11 2016