Earlier this week Premier Doug Ford was asked if there will be a reporting mechanism for Coronavirus outbreaks in schools in Ontario, he replied, “you’ll know when I know.” Today the province has begun posting detailed Coronavirus data on its website. The data today shows 13 of Ontario’s 4,800 schools had outbreaks. Six were in Ottawa, two in Oakville, four in Peel Region and one in Waterloo. Nine of the cases involved staff, four involved students.
The procedure that will be followed if there is an outbreak in a school is as follows:
- The local public health unit will determine what happens if a COVID-19 case is confirmed at your school.
- School boards and schools will post a notice on their website if a student or staff member tests positive for COVID-19. Search for a COVID-19 advisory section on their website. No personal information will be posted.
- Schools will work with public health units to help them identify who has been in close contact with a person who tested positive for COVID-19. This means that a school may provide the public health unit with your child’s name and information about their class cohort, school bus cohort and child care cohort. Schools will provide information in accordance with all applicable legislation, including the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act
- The public health unit will assess risk of exposure. Those at high risk will need to isolate for 14 days. If your child was in close contact with a person who tested positive, the public health unit will tell you that your child must isolate for 14 days. They’ll also tell you if your child or family need to get tested for COVID-19.
- If your child is feeling well enough, the school will give your child remote learning activities they can do at home during their 14-day isolation period.
- Since students will be grouped in class cohorts, the public health unit may determine that your child has not been in close contact with a person who tested positive for COVID-19 from another class or part of the school. The public health unit will advise you to monitor your child for symptoms, but your child will be able to keep going to school as long as they are not ill and the school is open.
- If the local public health unit declares an outbreak, they will determine what happens next. This could include closing classrooms, cohorts or an entire school. If an outbreak is declared in a school, the public health unit will help determine which groups of students need to be sent home or if a partial or full school closure is required.
- An outbreak may be declared by the local public health unit when: within a 14-day period, there are two or more laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 cases in students, staff or other visitors with an epidemiological link (for example, if cases are in the same class or cohort).at least one case could have been infected in the school (including on a school bus or in before or after school care).
The Ontario website for school COVID reporting is here.