Skip to Main Content Health Care Professionals Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit Search

Increased Absenteeism Reporting for Schools


Occasionally, schools may notice an increase in absenteeism due to illness.

Schools are required to report to the Health Unit when absenteeism due to illness reaches 30% of the student population. However, if a significant number of students are ill in one class this should still be reported. For example, if a primary classroom has 6-7 children off with similar symptoms within a day or two, this would be significant and should be reported.

Reporting absenteeism to public health serves three purposes:

  1. Public health can provide recommendations to prevent further spread of infection to the staff and students
  2. If illness is related to a special event or field trip, allows for outbreak investigation to prevent another incident from occurring again
  3. Provides public health surveillance on infectious disease activity within our community


When reporting increased absenteeism in your school please provide:

  • Symptoms
  • Grades/classes affected
  • How many staff and children are off ill
  • Total student enrollment
  • If symptoms include diarrhea/vomiting, was there a school event/field trip in the 3 days prior in those affected classrooms?


If your school is experiencing increased absenteeism related to illness, follow these general recommendations. Start as soon as you notice the illness.

  • Ensure sick children/staff stay home (see Exclusion Criteria on Common Childhood Illnesses resource)
  • Encourage good handwashing, especially before meal times
  • Ensure washrooms are supplied with liquid hand soap and paper towels and cleaned throughout the day
  • Increase the cleaning and disinfecting within the school, paying particular attention to the affected classrooms, washrooms, water fountains, common meeting areas, and other high touch surfaces
  • Refer to the enhanced cleaning guidelines as outlined by your school board to ensure the correct disinfectant is being used, ideally a high level disinfectant
  • Clean and disinfect the large play centers in the primary classrooms
  • Close sensory stations if the illness is happening in a kindergarten classroom
  • Remove plush toys/items and play clothes from the classrooms, launder if possible
  • Clean and disinfect toys that were in the classroom at the start of the outbreak


To report increased absentee rates in your school or to consult with a public health nurse, email or phone the School Health Team:

[email protected]

519-426-6170 ext 3285