Going to school during COVID-19
How to stay safe and what to do if there’s a case in the school.
To help keep students, staff and communities safe, enhanced health and safety measures have been put in place for in-person learning around wearing masks, self-screening and targeted testing.
Wearing masks at school
Students in Grade 1 to 3 are required to wear masks at school. There is also now a requirement to wear masks outdoors at schools, where physical distancing cannot be maintained.
Peel Public Health strongly recommends that school boards adopt mandatory masking policies for kindergarten students starting in junior kindergarten. Implementation may vary across schools and school boards. Check with your school or school board for more details.
Learn more about masks and other ways to stay safe in schools.The Ontario government has also introduced guidance to discourage students from gathering before and after school.
Daily on-site confirmation of self-screening
Schools are required to conduct daily on-site confirmation of self-screening for secondary students, all school staff (elementary and secondary) and all visitors before entering school or at the start of the school day.
Contact your school or school board to learn more about how on-site confirmation of self-screening is being implemented in your school.
All 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 before attending school or child care every day. This screening tool has specific instructions for those going to school in Peel Region.
Refer to daily screening section to learn more about daily screening.
Testing at select schools
Following Ministry of Education guidance, testing in schools is being expanded in Peel. Students, their families, school staff, and school bus drivers who do not have symptoms can receive COVID-19 tests at select schools. Like all COVID-19 testing, expanded testing in schools is voluntary.
Targeted testing clinics will be held at schools in areas of high transmission, high case numbers, and schools where access to current testing programs may be challenging.
This program will help to identify cases of COVID-19 that may have otherwise gone undetected, and reduce transmission of COVID-19 in schools. The testing clinics will also reduce barriers and increase access for testing in the community by introducing new temporary testing locations conveniently located in schools.
School staff can also get tested at participating pharmacies.
Testing at assessment centers and community testing locations remains available to all Peel residents.
Find the closest testing location near you.
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:
- shortness of breath
- fever or chills
- loss of taste or smell
- sore throat or difficulty swallowing
- stuffy or runny nose
- unusual or long-lasting headache
- nausea, vomiting or diarrhea
- feeling unwell, muscle aches or tiredness
Before leaving for school each day, you must screen your child for:
- Any COVID-19 symptoms (even if mild).
- Close contact with a person who is sick with COVID-19 symptoms, or who has tested positive in the past 14 days.
- Recent travel outside of Canada
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.
Refer to additional resources for our daily screening poster for students and children, it’s available in different languages.
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:
- Stay home and self-isolate for 10 days. 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.
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:
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 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.
Guidance is available for health care workers on situations where it is appropriate to work self-isolate. Also follow the occupational health policy at your workplace.
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 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.
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.
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.
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 recommended by Peel Public Health and may be required by your child’s school. Refer to 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.
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.
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.
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.
How to care for a child sent home from school
If your child has been dismissed from school, they will be required to self-isolate, whether they have symptoms or not. If the child is symptomatic or tests positive for COVID-19, everyone in the household must self-isolate for a period of 14 days starting from the last day of exposure to the child.
A caregiver may need to isolate with the child if they require support with daily living, such as bathing, feeding, and clothing. If you're caring for a child, it's important to follow precautions to protect yourself and others in the home:
- Only 1 healthy person should provide care for and isolate with the child.
- People at higher risk for severe illness (seniors, those with chronic medical conditions or who are immunocompromised) should not care for the child at any time.
- A non-medical mask should be worn by the child at all times, if possible. If the child can’t tolerate a mask for long periods, they should be encouraged to wear a mask any time they are within 2 metres of their caregiver.
- The caregiver should wear a mask regardless of whether the child is able to tolerate one.
- Both the child and the caregiver should continue to wash their hands with soap and warm water as often as possible.
- If you have contact with the child’s saliva or other body fluids, wear a medical mask, gloves and eye protection (goggles or face shield) and follow appropriate precautions for disposing these items.
- Both the child and the caregiver should stay 2-metres apart from all others in the household, which includes sleeping arrangements.
As a caregiver isolating with a child who either has symptoms or has tested positive for COVID-19, you're considered a close contact and must also self-isolate for a period of 14 days after your child’s self-isolation period is complete. The self-isolation period for caregivers should begin either 10 days after your child’s symptoms began or 10 days after your child was tested.
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
- COVID-19: Protecting yourself and others
Up-to-date information on COVID-19
- COVID-19 related posters
Print and post translated COVID-19 posters in your school
- School and child care screening poster
Display the school screening poster in your school
Available in English and French
School and child care screening poster
Display the school screening poster in your school.
- لعربية (Arabic)
- 中文 (简体) (Simplified Chinese)
- 中文 (繁體) (Traditional Chinese)
- Français (French)
- ગુજરાતી (Gujarati)
- ਪੰਜਾਬੀ (Punjabi)
- Español (Spanish)
- اُதமிழ் (Tamil)
- اُردُو (Urdu)
- Tiếng Việt (Vietnamese)
Tools for school administrators
- Ontario's COVID-19: reopening school
What to expect as schools open
- Guide to reopening Ontario’s schools
From the Ministry of Education
- Canada’s guidance for school bus operations during the COVID-19 pandemic
Requirements for school busses
Letters to school communities
- Elementary and secondary school reopening for parents and guardians
Available in English and French
- Private school reopening for parents and guardians
- University and college reopening for students
Resources for parents and caregivers
- Student return to school form
Fill out form if your child has been absent due to COVID-19
Available in English and French
- Summary of what to do if your child is dismissed from school or child care
Available in English and French
- Student caregiver toolkit
Information about symptoms, when to return to school and how to self-isolate
Available in English and French.