Nothing is more important than the health and safety of students and staff. As we return to school, new enhanced health and safety measures have been added to all aspects of school routines to help reduce and stop the spread of COVID-19. These measures are based on guidance from public health agencies and direction from the Ministry of Education, and will be included in start-of-the-year training for school staff.
In this section, you will find information about:
Screening and when to stay home
When should a student stay home?
We all have a role to play to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The most important thing families can do to help limit the spread of COVID-19 is to check their children daily for any COVID-19 symptoms and keep them home from school if they are sick or have had close contact with anyone diagnosed with COVID-19. Close contact includes being within 2 metres for more than 15 minutes, or being with someone in your social circle.
Parents/caregivers MUST use this
self-assessment to perform daily screening of their children before arriving at school.
Students should NOT come to school if they:
When in doubt, families should take extra care and keep their child home from school. A safe school is always more important than a perfect attendance record.
If your child is at a higher risk of an adverse outcome from COVID-19 infections due to underlying medical conditions (such as immunocompromised states or chronic medical conditions such as cardiac and lung disorders), please consult with your healthcare provider to determine whether your child is able to attend school.
What if a student develops symptoms while at school?
School staff will be provided with information on signs and symptoms of COVID-19 in children so that appropriate action can be taken if children develop symptoms of COVID-19 while at school. Students should also understand, as much as possible, how to identify their own symptoms and know to speak to a staff member immediately if they are feeling ill.
If symptoms present while at school, the school will follow these steps:
- Move the student to a designated room where they will be isolated from other staff and students until they can be picked up.
When occupied, these rooms will be supervised and contain PPE kits with hand sanitizer, gloves, surgical/procedural masks, eye protection and a gown. In the event that the number of symptomatic children outnumber the number of vacant rooms available, then they may isolate in the same room, but preference is that each individual be isolated in a separate room whenever possible.
- Contact the student’s parents/caregiver immediately.
Families will be required to pick up their child as soon as possible. They will also be directed to isolate their child, and seek medical advice and testing at an Assessment Centre in Peel.
- Thoroughly clean and disinfect the room once it is vacated.
All rooms and spaces that are used for the isolation of symptomatic staff and students must be thoroughly and properly cleaned and disinfected as soon as possible, once the room is vacated by the individual(s) being isolated. Signage will be available for posting to visually indicate if a room is clean and available for use.
|IMPORTANT: Please ensure all contact numbers are updated and emergency contacts are provided to the school in the event your child has symptoms and needs to be picked up immediately.|
What other screening measures are in place?
Staff will perform their own
self-assessment for COVID-19 before they leave for school. If the self-assessment says to stay at home and monitor your health or to get tested for COVID-19, staff must alert the Principal immediately and not come to work.
For essential visitors:
Signs will be posted at all entry doors reminding
essential visitors to complete a self-assessment before entering the school, and to not enter if they do not pass the self-assessment. When they sign in, they will also be required to check-off that they have completed the self-assessment.
new school health monitoring system will also be established through a partnership between the ministries of health and education, school boards and local public health agencies to monitor and respond to reports of COVID-19 symptoms. We are awaiting details from the Ministry of Education and will provide updates to families as new information becomes available.
Masks, face coverings and other Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) - UPDATED AUG. 21, 2020
To help ensure safer schools, we will be following Peel Public Health’s recent recommendation that all students in Grades 1 to 12
be required to wear a mask or face covering while indoors at school, including in classrooms and hallways. Peel Public Health has also indicated that the wearing of masks or face coverings is strongly recommended in Kindergarten.
|Students in grades 1 to 12 must arrive at school wearing a mask or face covering.|
The school will provide a mask only if the student arrives without one. Face coverings include disposable or cloth masks, bandanas, scarfs or similar items. All face coverings must cover the nose, mouth and chin, without any gaps.
We ask that you practice mask-wearing routines at home, particularly with younger children, in preparation for reopening. Here are some tips
All school-based staff and visitors into the school will be required to wear a mask. Medical masks and eye protection (i.e. face shields) will be provided for all Educators and other school board staff. Non-medical masks will be available for any essential visitors to the school who do not have their own.
Reasonable exceptions on the requirement to wear masks will apply (e.g. staff or students with sensory or breathing difficulties). Families should contact the school if they require an exemption/accommodation.
Students will also not be required to wear a mask while outdoors or while participating in a moderate or vigorous activity for Health and Physical Education classes.
Regular hand washing routines
Hand sanitizer will be available at all school entrances and in every classroom and gymnasium. Before entering the school, students, staff and all visitors must sanitize their hands.
All classes will also have scheduled washroom and hand washing breaks throughout the day. Students and all staff will wash/sanitize their hands:
upon entry/exit of the building (mandatory for anyone who enters the building)
upon entry to their classroom
before and after eating
before and after using the washroom
and at other intervals (e.g. after handling shared items)
Posters will be placed around the school to remind students and staff to avoid touching their eyes, mouth and nose as much as possible, avoid contact with people who are sick, cover their coughs and sneezes with a tissue or into their upper sleeve or elbow, and wash their hands after coughing and sneezing.
Physical distancing measures
All schools will follow new procedures to promote physical distancing to the best extent possible. Furniture in classrooms will be reconfigured, where necessary, to help maintain physical distance between students and staff.
Cohorting and limiting interactions with others at school
A key way that we will limit and identify interactions at school is through cohorting. Cohorting is the practice of keeping students together in a small group throughout their school day, with limited exposure to multiple Teachers or a wide variety of classmates. This practice limits the number of other students that a single student is in contact with. This practice will also facilitate contact tracing, should it be necessary.
Within these cohort groups, students within a class will stay together as much as possible and limit their interactions with others. Classes will travel together in the school to use the washroom, enter/exit the building, etc. As much as possible, the same Teacher will stay with their class.
To further limit risk of exposure and assist with contact tracing, additional measures are in place to reduce the number of people students and staff interact with each day:
- Lunch and recess will be supervised by the same staff, as much as possible.
- Support staff will avoid interaction with students, unless absolutely necessary.
- If your child has another Teacher for a different subject, such as French, the Teacher will come to the classroom, rather than having the students move rooms.
- Students will be allowed to interact only with students in their own cohorts while outside. Physical distancing between cohorts, even outside, must be maintained.
- Parents/caregivers will not be permitted inside the school, and will be asked to meet their child at an entrance, if needed.
- Visitors to the school will be limited to
essential visitors only, and will be asked to sign in and out.
Limiting shared spaces and gatherings
As much as possible, shared spaces will be limited to help reduce unnecessary interactions between cohorts. Rooms shared by different groups or cohorts of students will be cleaned and disinfected before and after use. Large gatherings, such as assemblies, will be conducted virtually, rather than in-person.
- Closed shared spaces: Staff rooms, libraries, auditoriums, cafeterias, drama rooms (carpet online), weight rooms and changerooms will be closed during the school day. If these spaces are used for special circumstances, accommodations will be made to ensure the spaces are cleaned and hand sanitizer is provided.
One-way hallways and stairwells: If a hallway or stairwell does not allow for adequate physical distance, it will become a “one-way” path with directional arrows posted on the walls. Student movement throughout the school at busy times will be coordinated to avoid congestion.
Limited access to the main office: Entry to the school’s main office will be restricted to
essential visitors only. A physically distanced waiting area will be established outside the Main Office. Signage with access instructions will be posted. Students may visit the Main Office to request first aid, to receive medication, to sign in/out, attend for behaviour support and/or in crisis situations.
Limiting shared classroom materials
Every effort will be made to limit the use of shared objects. Materials not absolutely necessary for course delivery will be removed from classrooms.
- Students will be given their own materials, as much as possible, and encouraged not to share. Schools will provide students with a baggie, basket or other similar, easily cleaned item that will be labelled with students’ names to store individual instructional materials.
- If materials must be shared between classes, they will be disinfected or stored. Students will use hand sanitizer before and after using materials that other students may possibly use.
Enhanced cleaning and disinfection protocols
The cleanliness of buildings, classrooms, portables, washrooms, common areas and high-touch surfaces is critical.
Custodial staff will perform general cleaning of commonly used rooms and facilities (e.g. sensory rooms, break-out spaces, hallways, stairwells, entrance foyers, gym) throughout the day, with an increased frequency of cleaning of high-touch surfaces. On a nightly basis, all classrooms, portables, staff and student washrooms and school offices will be thoroughly cleaned and sanitized.
High-touch surfaces include (but are not limited to):
- door handles
- soap dispensers
- push plates
- toilet handles
- toilet paper dispensers
- all glass surfaces
- drinking fountains
- light switches
- counter tops
- school phones
- fire extinguisher security alarm panel
- stairwell railings
- elevator push buttons and railing
Airflow and ventilation
When possible, schools will:
- keep windows open to encourage natural ventilation
- adjust HVAC system settings to increase the amount of fresh air into the building
- minimize the use of fans and portable air conditioners as much as possible, as they could affect the spread of respiratory droplets
- avoid the recirculation of air as much as practically possible, and ensure clean filters and preventative maintenance schedules are rigorously followed
- position desks near windows and away from forced-air HVAC systems, as natural ventilation is preferred
To help with physical distancing measures, families/caregivers will not be permitted to enter the school to drop off or pick up students. Please follow instructions provided by your school to know which door will be your child’s designated entry area. All students will sanitize their hands when they enter. Details on entry and exit routines are included in the
Elementary Schools (K-8)
Secondary Schools (Grade 9 to 12)
Eating and drinking at school
To help promote healthy eating and drinking habits, all students:
In elementary schools:
- must NOT share food or cups/utensils/water bottles
- must wash/sanitize their hands before and after eating
- are encouraged to bring a refillable water bottle to school. Students will be discouraged from drinking from water fountains using the mouthpiece. Signage will be posted at water fountains and water filling stations with guidelines for use.
In secondary schools,
- Students will stay in their classrooms to eat lunch, and are encouraged to bring their own lunches.
- Families/caregivers who must drop off student lunches will leave the labelled lunch in a designated area and not enter the Main Office.
- Food deliveries from third-party providers will not be accepted.
- All “food days,” “pizza days,” etc. are cancelled until further notice.
- Schools may decide to continue to run modified breakfast and snack programs. Check with your child’s school directly to learn more.
Learn more about elementary lunch procedures.
the school day will be shortened so there will not be a lunch period.
Prior to all outdoor activities, students will wash/sanitize their hands. Students will not be required to wear a mask while outside.
While outside for recess, students in the same cohort/class will not be required to physically distance, but close contact will be discouraged. However, students in different cohorts will continue to practice physical distancing as much as possible.
Visitors to schools
To limit and track school visitors, only essential visitors will be permitted into the school. If families wish to speak to someone at the school, they are asked to do so by emailing or calling the school directly.
DO NOT require appointments
Family/caregivers who are picking up a sick child/other emergency. Families/caregivers will be instructed that only one adult per household should attend the school at once.
Family/caregivers who are meeting with school staff to discuss an issue with their child of a non-urgent nature. All meetings should take place virtually or by phone whenever possible.
As required by the Ministry of Education and consistent with public health recommendations, visitors must sign in upon entry and sign out when they leave. They will be required to follow school rules, physically distance as much as possible, and wear a mask/face covering.
All doors of elementary and secondary schools will be locked once the school day starts. All essential visitors must enter via the main entrance door using the buzzer or by phone. A waiting area will be established outside the main entrance.
Procedures in the event of a positive COVID-19 case
If an individual who has entered a school building tests positive for COVID-19, we have developed a plan, aligned with Ontario's COVID-19 guidance: school outbreak management document, following Ministry guidelines and in consultation with public health, to help contain and reduce the spread. This is a plan we hope to never need, but will be ready in the event a positive case is identified, so Peel Public Health can respond quickly and effectively.
Confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 at the school
In the event a school staff member, student or essential visitor who has entered a school building tests positive for COVID-19, the school and board will follow Peel Public Health response guidance. The local public health unit will further direct those who have been exposed to a confirmed COVID-19 case or who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 regarding when they may return to school.
If the school becomes aware of someone who has entered the school who has tested positive for COVID-19:
Staff, students and visitors will be directed to seek testing at an Assessment Centre if they demonstrate any symptoms of COVID-19 or if they do not pass the self-assessment for any other reason. Testing will not take place at school. Staff, students, parents and visitors will be expected to report the results of their COVID-19 test to the school Principal or Vice-Principal as soon as they are available so additional action can be taken if necessary.
View resources from Trillium Health Partners for COVID-19 testing for kids ages 2 to 8 and older kids ages 8 to 17.
While an individual who is suspected to have COVID-19 is waiting for test results, they must be in isolation and cannot attend school in person. The Principal may work with the teacher and parent to provide some continuity in learning if the student feels well enough to participate.
Non COVID-19 related illness
For an ill individual who has a known alternative diagnosis provided by a health care provider, (e.g. allergies), return to school or work can occur when symptoms are resolved for at least 24 hours.
Individuals who have had a COVID-19 test because of symptoms, but who test negative, should not return to school or work until at least 24 hours after their symptoms have resolved.
Individuals who have traveled out of the country must isolate for 14 days, even if they are not showing any symptoms and have a negative test result within that 14 days. Negative test results do not change the requirement for isolation nor do they shorten the isolation period for travellers.
Where a student or staff member has tested positive for COVID-19, Peel Public Health will be in contact with the board's COVID-19 Lead to provide further direction on returning to school.
Students and staff members who live in a household where a family member or other household member has tested positive must stay home and isolate for 14 days as they would be considered "close contacts." Negative test results do not change the requirement for isolation nor do they shorten the isolation period for close contacts.
Management of a confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19 in the school community
This section applies to a student, staff member or a member of a school community who is regularly in the school, who informs the school that they have tested positive for COVID-19.
Any individual who tests positive for COVID-19 should not attend school until they are cleared by Peel Public Health or their health care provider.
Any individuals who test positive must remain in isolation for 14 days. Retesting is not recommended and will not alter this 14-day isolation requirement.
Every individual who has tested positive for COVID-19 is contacted by Peel Public Health for further follow-up.
Peel Public Health will notify the school of a positive COVID-19 diagnosis. In some cases, Peel Public Health may not be the same local public health unit (PHU) as the school. In these circumstances, coordination between the PHUs and the school is required for further direction. Having designated points of contact within the school and the PHU can assist with ensuring clear processes for communication are in place.
Where Peel Public Health determines there was a transmission risk to others in the school, students and staff will be assessed to determine if they were at high risk of exposure (requiring isolation) or if they were at low risk of exposure (can self-monitor for symptoms and return to school).
All students and staff determined to be at high risk of exposure will be directed to isolate and recommended to be tested (voluntary testing) within their isolation period.
Negative test results do not change the requirement for isolation nor do they shorten the isolation period for close contacts.
Provincial closure protocols for outbreaks
The local public health unit (PHU), in our case, Peel Public Health, is responsible for determining if an outbreak exists, declaring an outbreak, and providing direction on outbreak control measures to be implemented.
An outbreak in a school is defined as two or more lab-confirmed COVID-19 cases in students and/or staff in a school with an epidemiological link, within a 14-day period, where at least one case could have reasonably acquired their infection in the school (including transportation and before- or after-school care).
However, even though an outbreak may be declared in the school, Peel Public Health will assist in determining which cohort(s) may be sent home or if a partial or full school closure is required based on the scope of the outbreak. Please note, there may be variability in scenarios based on local context and epidemiology, and the information below is intended as guidance only.
Peel Public Health will work with the school to determine epidemiological links (e.g., cases in the same class, cases that are part of the same before/after school care cohort, cases that have assigned bus seats in close proximity to each other). Peel Public Health will determine which cohorts are high risk contacts, requiring isolation.
Reopening the school
The outbreak does not necessarily need to be over to reopen the school. Cohorts without evidence of transmission can be gradually brought back to school as additional information and test results become available. Consideration should be given to implementing additional preventive measures and active surveillance as part of re-opening.
Outbreak declared over
An outbreak will be declared over by Peel Public Health. This may be based on:
at least 14 days from the last outbreak associated case (including in a student, staff, essential visitor, or anyone else in the school during the outbreak)
no further symptomatic individuals with tests pending
Emergency procedures (fire drills, lockdowns)
Fire DrillsIf the school’s fire alarm goes off, students should exit the building in single-file lines while maintaining physical distancing. Once outside, staff members will ensure that students remain physically distanced and that classes are spaced out.
LockdownsIn the event of a lockdown, students will be encouraged to physically distance, where possible.
Last updated: Sept. 1, 2020