Going to school during COVID-19
How to stay safe and what to do if there’s a case in the school.
Screen for COVID-19 daily
Before leaving for school each day, students must screen for COVID-19 symptoms using the COVID-19 school screening tool. Look for symptoms that are new, getting worse, or different than usual.
Learn about what to do if a student does not pass the daily screening.
We continue to work closely with local schools and school boards to implement provincial health and safety measures that will keep students, families, staff and visitors safe at school.
We recommend that students practice the Core Four actions to prevent the spread of COVID-19. This means:
- Maintaining 2-metres of physical distance, when possible.
- Wearing a mask where mandatory or where physical distancing is difficult.
- Practicing good hand hygiene.
- Getting tested if you think you have COVID-19. While waiting for test results, stay home and self-isolate.
Stay home if someone in your home is sick
If anyone in your household has symptoms of COVID-19 and is recommended to get tested by the COVID-19 screening tool or a health care provider, everyone in your household must stay home until the sick person has received a negative test.
This will help keep families and schools safe.
Learn more about daily screening and next steps to find out what to do if a student has symptoms and when they can return to school.
If there’s a person with COVID-19 at your child's school, Peel Public Health will work with the school to conduct contact tracing and case management.
Case counts and exposures in schools and other settings are increasing in Peel. Because of this, Peel Public Health will dismiss classes if a student or school staff in the class is positive for COVID-19, to minimize the risk of spread.
- When the school receives a positive COVID-19 result from someone in the school, the school community will be notified.
- Meanwhile, the class and other affected cohorts (for example bus, before and after school program etc.) will be dismissed and instructed to self-isolate. Parents and caregivers of students in the dismissed class will receive instructions on how to self-isolate and care for their household.
- After Peel Public Health completes our investigation, more information will be provided on the need for testing and when the class can safely return to school.
Based on each situation, there will be additional infection prevention measures, including cleaning and sanitization of the exposed areas.
For more details about what will happen if there’s a COVID-19 outbreak at a school, check the Ministry’s Operational Guidance: COVID-19 management in schools.
Student has symptoms and did not pass the daily school screening
If they have any of these symptoms: fever and chills, cough, shortness of breath, or decreased or loss of taste or smell.
If they have 2 or more of these symptoms: sore throat or difficulty swallowing, stuffy or runny nose, headache, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, extreme tiredness or muscle aches, they must:
- Stay home and self-isolate. Call the school to let them know.
- Get tested. Contact a health care provider if they believe the symptoms are due to an illness other than COVID-19.
- Self-isolate at home while waiting for the test result. Ensure household members (siblings, parents) also isolate at home until the test result comes back.
If they have only 1 of these symptoms: sore throat or difficulty swallowing, stuffy or runny nose, headache, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, extreme tiredness or muscle aches, they must:
- Stay home and self-isolate for at least 24 hours from when the symptom started. Call the school to let them know.
- Siblings and other household members do not need to self-isolate and can still go to school or work, unless they are showing symptoms.
- If the symptom is improving after 24 hours and they feel well enough, they can return to school. They do not need to get tested.
- After 24 hours, if the symptom stays the same or gets worse, or the student develops 2 or more of these symptoms, the student should get tested for COVID-19 or contact their health care provider. The student and their household members (including siblings) must self-isolate at that point.
Student does not have any symptoms of COVID-19 and did not pass the daily school screening
If they were exposed to a person who has or may have COVID-19, they must:
If they travelled outside of Canada, they must:
Instructions for household members
If the student does not have any symptoms of COVID-19, household members (siblings, parents, etc.) do not need to self-isolate but should self-monitor for symptoms. If the student develops symptoms, they must self-isolate and household members may also have to self-isolate depending on the individual's symptoms.
If you have questions about your specific situation, call Peel Public Health at 905-799-7700, Caledon 905-584-2216. Our call centre is open Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
If the test result is negative for COVID-19, the student can return to school if all the following apply:
- They do not have a fever (without using medication)
- It has been at least 24 hours since their symptoms started improving
- They were not in close contact with someone who currently has COVID-19
If symptoms do not improve, consult with a primary health care provider for diagnosis of another illness.
If the test result is positive for COVID-19:
- The student must continue to self-isolate. Public health will call and give instructions on what to do before returning to school.
- Household contacts (including siblings) must self-isolate immediately and get tested. They must isolate for 14 days from the last exposure to the person who has COVID-19.
If a health care provider diagnosed the student with another illness (not COVID-19), the student may return to school if:
- It has been at least 24 hours since their symptoms started improving.
If the student does not get tested for COVID-19
If you're unsure if you should be tested for COVID-19, speak to a health care provider.
If the student was assessed and diagnosed with another illness by a health care provider and it has been at least 24 hours since their symptoms started improving, they can return to school.
If a health care provider recommends testing and the student does not get tested, the student must self-isolate for 10 days at home from the start of their symptoms and pass the daily COVID-19 screening tool before going back to school. Household members (including siblings) must self-isolate for 14 days from the last exposure to the person who has COVID-19.
How to care for a child with COVID-19 at home
If you're caring for a child who has or may have COVID-19, it's important to follow precautions to protect yourself and others in the home. For example:
- Only 1 healthy person should provide care for or self-isolate with your child.
- People at higher risk for severe illness (seniors, those with chronic medical conditions or who are immunocompromised) should not care for the sick child.
- The rest of your household must also self-isolate if your child has symptoms or has tested positive for COVID-19.
- Your child must stay at home and keep a 2-metre distance from others if possible. Your child should not play with friends or go to public areas.
- Avoid sharing food, drinks, or personal items with your child (towels, bed linen, electronic devices) and use a separate bathroom if possible.
- Wash your child's laundry with regular laundry soap and hot water, and dry well. Wear gloves and a mask when in direct contact with contaminated laundry.
For more information, follow the self-isolation guidance for caregivers and find advice from the Government of Canada about how to care for a child with COVID-19 at home. These resources are available in multiple languages.
Peel District School Board
Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board
Conseil scolaire Viamonde
Conseil scolaire catholique MonAvenir
Access our dashboard for information on COVID-19 cases in Peel - school outbreaks.
- Ontario's COVID-19: reopening schools
What to expect as schools open
- Guide to Reopening Ontario’s Schools
From the Ministry of Education
- Federal guidance for school bus operations during the COVID-19 pandemic
Learn about requirements for school busses
- COVID-19: Protecting yourself and others
Up-to-date information on COVID-19
- COVID-19 Core Four sign
Display the Core Four sign in your school or home
- COVID-19 related posters
Print and post COVID-19 posters in your school
Peel Public Health is working with school boards on the safe reopening of schools in Peel. The following letters are being shared in the community.
- Elementary and secondary school reopening parents and guardians – English
- Elementary and secondary school reopening parents and guardians – French
- Private school reopening parents and guardians
- University and college reopening students
- Decision-making resource for elementary and secondary schools – English