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COVID-19 Guidance for Schools

 

Due to more people testing positive for COVID-19, Ontario has changed the way cases and contacts of COVID-19 are managed.

 

As a result, the Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit (HNHU) will no longer be providing in-depth monitoring and follow-up for cases of COVID-19 among school-aged children. If your child tests positive for COVID-19 or is identified as a close contact, they likely will NOT receive a call from the HNHU.

All publicly funded and private schools will return to in-person learning on January 17, 2022. Although the HNHU will not be following up with school-aged cases, families can use the same strategies as before to help limit the spread of COVID-19:

  • Complete the Ontario school and childcare screening daily before leaving for school/childcare and stay home while sick.
  • Get vaccinated for COVID-19. Visit hnhu.org/popup to book an appointment.
  • Send children with multiple clean and well-fitted masks to wear at school. Neck warmer/bandanas are not acceptable.
  • Talk to your children about the importance of washing and sanitizing their hands.

 

My child has symptoms of COVID-19. What should I do?

  • If your child develops COVID-19 symptoms, at any time, they are required to isolate before returning to school. Refer to this chart for information on how long your child needs to isolate.

School/Child Care Decision Tree — Sick at School      School/Child Care Decision Tree — Sick at Home

 

    • Fully vaccinated or aged 11 or younger – must isolate for at least 5 days from the date symptoms start AND until symptoms have been improving for 24 hours (or 48 hours if gastrointestinal symptoms), whichever is longer in duration.
      • For a total of 10 days, you should: Continue to wear a well-fitted mask in all public settings and should not visit any highest risk settings, or anyone who is immunocompromised, or at higher risk of illness (i.e. seniors).
    • Not fully vaccinated OR immune compromised – must isolate for at least 10 days from the date symptoms start AND until symptoms have been improving for 24 hours (or 48 hours if gastrointestinal symptoms), whichever is longer in duration.
  • In both cases, all other household members regardless of vaccination status must isolate for the same amount of time as the child with symptoms.

 

My child has tested positive for COVID-19. What should I do?

 

  • Self-isolate (stay home).
    • Fully vaccinated or aged 11 or younger  must isolate for at least 5 days from the date symptoms start AND until symptoms have been improving for 24 hours (or 48 hours if gastrointestinal symptoms), whichever is longer in duration.
      • For a total of 10 days, you should: Continue to wear a well-fitted mask in all public settings and should not visit any highest risk settings, or anyone who is immunocompromised, or at higher risk of illness (i.e. seniors).
    • Not fully vaccinated OR immune compromised  must isolate for at least 10 days from the date symptoms start AND until symptoms have been improving for 24 hours (or 48 hours if gastrointestinal symptoms), whichever is longer in duration.
  • Household members regardless of vaccination status must isolate for the same amount of time as the child who has tested positive for COVID-19.
  • Report your child’s absence to school/child care following their absenteeism policy.
  • Inform your child’s close contacts. Refer close contacts to the Ministry site Ontario.ca/exposed for instructions on what to do next.
    • A close contact is anyone your child was less than two metres away from for at least 15 minutes, or multiple shorter lengths of time, without personal protective equipment in the 48 hours before your child’s symptoms began or 48 hours before they were tested, whichever came first.
    • As per Ontario guidance:
      • Individuals exposed at school are not generally considered high-risk contacts.
      • Generally, whole classes will not be required to self-isolate if they have been exposed to a positive case at school.

Any closures of classes or schools will be based on operational requirements determined by the school board and/or childcare operator.

 

How do I calculate my child’s isolation period?

 

If the Ontario school and childcare screening tells you to self-isolate for 5 days, count 5 days like this:

 

For a total of 10 days, you should: Continue to wear a well-fitted mask in all public settings and should not visit any highest risk settings, or anyone who is immunocompromised, or at higher risk of illness (i.e. seniors).


 

If the Ontario school and childcare screening tells you to self-isolate for 10 days, count 10 days like this:

 

 

My child has symptoms not listed on the COVID-19 Screening tool. What should I do?

  • Anyone who is sick or has any symptoms of illness, including those not listed in the Ontario school and child care screening tool, should stay home and seek an assessment from their health care provider if needed.
  • They can return to school when symptoms have been improving for at least 24 hours (or 48 hours after nausea, vomiting or diarrhea).
Someone has tested positive or has COVID-19 like symptoms in my child’s school/child care. What should I do?

 

It can be upsetting to hear that your child has been exposed to someone with symptoms or who has tested positive for COVID-19.

 

New provincial guidance states that individuals only exposed at school with all public health measures in place are not generally considered high-risk contacts.

 

This means that:

  • Public Health units will no longer routinely dismiss cohorts.
  • Any dismissals or closures of a school or child care will be based on operational requirements determined by the school board, school and/or child care operator.

 

One of the most important things you can do is to take the Ontario COVID-19 school and child care screening daily, prior to leaving for school/child care, and follow the directions based on your results.  Monitor your child and keep them home if they develop ANY symptoms.

 

Other measures, such as wearing a well-fitted mask, washing hands frequently, physical distancing from others, and getting vaccinated (if eligible) can also help to reduce the risk of COVID-19 for your child and others.


Masks

When layered with other recommended public health measures, a well-constructed, well-fitting and properly worn mask can help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

What type of masks are acceptable for child care and school settings?

 

  • Neck gaiters, neck warmers, scarves, bandanas, and face shields, as well as masks with vents or exhalation valves are not acceptable as a replacement for a well-fitted mask. They do not filter the air, are likely to move or slip out of place, aren’t well secured to the head or ears, and do not seal/fit closely to the nose, cheeks, and chin without gaps.
  • For more information on how to choose, use, and care for a mask visit this Government of Canada resource “COVID-19: How to choose, use, and care for a mask”.

 


Rapid Antigen Tests

Rapid antigen testing is an additional tool that can be used to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Students may be sent home with rapid antigen testing kits from their school. Rapid antigen testing is voluntary. Please note: at this time, the Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit does not have rapid antigen tests to distribute to the public.

Students, regardless of vaccination status, can use a rapid antigen test if they have symptoms of COVID-19.

How to use a rapid antigen test

 

  • Please follow the instructions provided in the testing kit.
  • Students should use the test at home and with the help of a parent or caregiver if needed.
  • Results are available within 15 minutes of completing a rapid antigen test.
My child tested positive on a rapid antigen test

 

  • A positive result on a rapid antigen test is a good indication that you have COVID-19. It does not need to be confirmed by a PCR test.
  • If your child tests positive for COVID-19, they must stay home and must isolate. See What to do if you test positive for COVID-19
My child tested negative on a rapid antigen test

 

  • A negative result on a rapid antigen test does not rule out COVID-19. If your child tests negative on a rapid antigen test but has symptoms of COVID-19, or lives in the same house as someone with COVID-19 symptoms, they must stay home and self-isolate.
  • Use another rapid antigen test 24 to 48 hours apart. If the result is negative on both tests, your child can then return to school when symptoms have been improving for at least 24 hours (or 48 hours after nausea, vomiting and/or diarrhea). This does not apply if your child is isolating because they were a household contact or a close contact. This only applies if your child has symptoms with no known exposure to COVID-19.
My child’s rapid antigen test result was invalid

 

  • If you do not have another rapid antigen test on hand, complete the Ontario Self-Assessment and follow the directions on what to do next.
Can my child get a PCR Test?

 

  • Most members of the general public, including school-aged children, are no longer eligible for publicly funded PCR testing. For a full list of eligibility, visit http://covid-19.ontario.ca/exposed
  • Rapid antigen testing can be used to find out if your child’s symptoms are related to COVID-19. Positive rapid antigen test results do not need to be confirmed by PCR testing.