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Province releases protocols for back-to-school

Parents are getting more information on how schools should handle classroom health in then COVID back-to-school period.  the Ontario government has released their plans for how COVID-19 outbreaks will be managed and dealt with within schools.

Documents provided by the ministry of education and ministry of health, say schools do not need to report all instances of a child feeling unwell, as “these are frequent occurrences and typically students have non-specific symptoms.” The decision about whether or not to contact parents or public health remains in the hands of the school principal. If the principal believes the child is suffering from symptoms of COVID, the student should be taken to a place designated for the purpose while their parents are contacted. Students and staff should wear the appropriate personal protective equipment.

The student will be sent home and told to contact their local physician. If a COVID-19 test is necessary, they will continue their learning remotely while they wait for the results, assuming they are well enough to do so.

The school superintendent will inform the board’s COVID-19 lead, who will monitor attendance and student absences.

If a child does not have COVID-19 but is experiencing symptoms such as fever, cough or shortness of breath, they will be asked to stay home until 24 hours after they stop experiencing those symptoms. Parents are expected to monitor their child for the common symptoms every morning, but officials said the challenge will be that some children may not experience any symptoms.

What happens if there is a positive case? Schools will be notified by their local public health unit (PHU) if they have a positive COVID-19 cases. Anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 within the school community, including students, staff and bus drivers, will be asked to remain in isolation for 14 days. They will not be allowed to return until they are cleared by either the local public health unit or their health-care provider.

It is not necessary to provide evidence of a negative test in order to return to the school. The cohorts connected with a positive case within schools will be considered at high risk of exposure. The government has said that in the case of a positive COVID-19 diagnosis in which the disease was acquired outside school, the patient’s cohort will likely be sent home for self-isolation as well. This includes groups within classrooms, buses and before or after school programs.

Anyone else who was in close contact with the case while they were considered infectious will also be asked to isolate.

If there is no known source for a patient or it is likely that they contracted the disease at school, that person’s cohort as well as anyone else identified as having high-risk exposure will be asked to self-isolate and get tested as soon as possible.

The full government directive for schools is here.

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