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Going to school during COVID-19

How to stay safe and what to do if there’s a case in the school.

Learning at home has been extended

As the spread of COVID-19 continues, the Ontario government announced that publicly funded and private elementary and secondary schools will not return to in-person learning until February 10.

New health and safety measures for in-person learning

To help keep students, staff and communities safe, the Ontario government plans to put the following measures in place for in-person learning:

More details will be provided as they become available.

Daily school screening

If your child has 1 or more symptoms of COVID-19 they need to stay home and not attend school. Symptoms may be new, getting worse, or different than usual. Look for the following symptoms, even if they are mild:

Before leaving for school each day, you must screen your child for:

Students (or parents on their behalf), staff (including teachers, office staff, custodians, and, bus drivers), and visitors should use Ontario’s online COVID-19 school and child care screening. This screening tool has specific instructions for those going to school in Peel Region.

You can also refer to our screening poster for students and children:

Refer to the daily screening and next steps section to 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:

Stay home if someone in your home is sick

If anyone in your household has 1 or more symptoms of COVID-19, they should stay home and get tested. Everyone in your household (including siblings) must stay home and self-isolate until the sick person has received a negative test or has been diagnosed with another illness by a health care provider.

This will help keep families and schools safe.

Learn what to do if you can't self-isolate in your home.

Health care workers may refer to the following instructions for guidance on situations where it is appropriate to work self-isolate. Please also follow the occupational health policy at your workplace.

Other information

If there’s a person with COVID-19 at your child's school, Peel Public Health will work with the school to take the appropriate steps to keep everyone safe.

Case counts and exposures in schools and other settings are high in Peel. Because of this, Peel Public Health will dismiss classes if a student or 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 and affected cohorts will receive instructions on how to self-isolate and care for their household. Testing for COVID-19 will be strongly recommended.
  • Siblings and any other children in the house that attend school or child care will be asked to remain home, and not attend school or child care, until the child in the dismissed class returns to school. Adults in the same household may continue to go to work. Health care workers should check with their employer about their organization’s policy.
  • Adults should monitor everyone in the household for COVID-19 symptoms every day. If anyone at home develops symptoms or tests positive for COVID-19, they must self-isolate immediately and should get tested.
  • 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.

Refer to a summary about what to do if your child is dismissed from school or child care. Available in English or French.

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 1 or more symptoms and did not pass the daily school screening

If they have symptoms of COVID-19 (fever, chills, cough, shortness of breath, decreased or loss of taste or smell, sore throat, difficulty swallowing, stuffy or runny nose, unusual or long-lasting headache, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, extreme tiredness or muscle aches) they must:

  1. Stay home and self-isolate for 10 days. Call the school to let them know.
  2. Get tested. Contact a health care provider if they believe the symptoms are due to an illness other than COVID-19.
  3. 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.

Refer to the when to return to school section for what to do if the student does not get tested.

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:

  1. Self-isolate for 14 days from the last exposure to a person who has COVID-19.
  2. Arrange to get tested if symptoms develop.
  3. If the test result is negative and the student later develops new or worsening symptoms, arrange to get re-tested.

If they travelled outside of Canada, they must:

  1. Self-isolate for 14 days from the date of return to Canada as outlined in the federal quarantine order.
  2. Monitor for symptoms and arrange to get tested if symptoms develop.

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 for 10 days. Household members should self-isolate until a negative COVID-19 test or an alternative diagnosis is received by the individual experiencing symptoms.

If the student does not get tested or tests positive for COVID-19, household members must self-isolate for 14 days from the last exposure to the student with symptoms.

Learn what to do if you can't self-isolate in your home.

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
  • They have not travelled outside of Canada within the last 14 days

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 testing is recommended 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 student with symptoms.

Have a plan in case your child is showing symptoms and must stay home or be picked up from school.
The student will need to be picked up as soon as possible from school if they’re sick. Book an appointment for the child to get tested for COVID-19 or consult with a health care provider if you think the symptoms are due to an illness other than COVID-19.

Ensure your child has a non-medical or cloth mask to wear to school.

Students in Grades 1 to 12 are required to wear masks inside the school, including in hallways and during classes, and on the bus. Masks are also required outdoors where physical distancing cannot be maintained. Wearing a mask by kindergarten students is strongly encouraged.

Reasonable exceptions on the requirement to wear masks apply. For example, those who have trouble breathing or are unable to wear a mask for medical reasons. Explain to your child that some people are not able to wear masks, and to show kindness in these situations. Mask policies may vary, check your school’s policy for details.

  • It may be helpful to pack an extra mask for your child each day. Your child will then be able to change their mask if it becomes dirty or damp.
  • Masks can be stored in a dry, clean paper bag or container during lunch and break times. Store clean masks separately from dirty masks.
  • Learn how to choose, wear and clean or dispose of a mask.

Talk to your child about the safe use of hand sanitizers.

  • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Use alcohol-based hand sanitizers if soap and water are not available.
  • Allow hand sanitizer to dry before eating or drinking.
  • Never eat or drink hand sanitizers. Even small amounts can be dangerous or fatal.
  • Always supervise your child when they use hand sanitizer.
  • Store hand sanitizer in a safe place that’s out of the reach of children.
  • Avoid products packaged in containers that look like food or beverage containers to avoid possible confusion.

Understand 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.

Learn what to do if you can't self-isolate in your home.

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.

COVID-19 information and posters

Tools for school administrators

  • Decision-making resource for elementary and secondary schools
    Available in English and French

Guidance documents

Letters to school communities

Resource for parents and caregivers