Students returning to in-person learning

Students enrolled in publicly funded and private schools will return to in-person learning on January 17, 2022. Measures in place to support the return of in-person learning include:

  • daily on-site confirmation of self-screening for covid 19 symptoms before entering school
  • school-based vaccination clinics to offer safe and convenient access to covid 19 vaccines
  • expanded access to rapid antigen tests
  • enhanced ventilation in classrooms and child care centres
  • N95 masks (non-fit tested) for staff in schools and licensed child care settings and 3-ply masks for students
  • temporary pausing of high-contact indoor sports, high-intensity and music activities and mandatory masking for indoor sports
  • new time-limited cohorting protocols to limit direct and indirect contacts with stricter lunch cohort requirements
  • elevated cleaning requirements at all schools

As of January 17, before and after school programs will resume and the emergency child care program will cease.

The content on this page will be updated to reflect Ontario’s latest covid 19 guidance and enhanced health and safety measures.

Find out what we’re doing to improve safety in schools

Find out how we’re protecting the health, safety and well-being of students and staff to support a safer in-person learning.

  1. Learn about voluntary covid 19 testing for students.

  2. Read the health and safety measures for school and child care.

  3. Learn what we are doing to improve ventilation and filtration at school.

  4. Get the facts and book a covid 19 vaccine.

  1. Testing for students
  2. Health and safety measures
  3. Ventilation improvements
  4. Vaccines for students and staff

Voluntary COVID-19 testing for students

All students in publicly funded elementary and secondary schools have access to covid 19 testing. This includes:

  • rapid antigen tests for elementary and secondary students currently learning in-person to use during the winter break
    • students will receive a box of five rapid antigen tests from their school, so families can choose to voluntarily complete the tests at home before returning to school in January (tests are for students with no covid 19 symptoms)
    • families who choose to use rapid antigen screening kits may want to conduct the test every three to four days over the winter break (for example, every Monday and Thursday beginning December 23 until all five tests have been used)
    • check the Ontario Health website for full instructions on how to complete a rapid antigen test at home
    • watch the public education videos about rapid antigen testing for asymptomatic students in English, French and 15 other languages
    • if your child tests positive on a rapid antigen test, they must get a follow-up test at a covid 19 testing location to confirm the result within 48 hours
      • the child and anyone in the household who is not fully vaccinated must isolate while waiting for results
  • take-home polymerase chain reaction (PCR) self-collection kits for students with covid 19 symptoms or who have been identified as a high-risk contact
    • families can pick up PCR self-collection kits from their school, collect the sample at home and drop it off at a participating location near you (to search, enter your postal code and select “accepts schools PCR self-collection kits” filter)
    • check your PCR self-collection kit for full instructions on how to complete the test
      • be sure to include your child’s full name, date of birth and health card number (if available) on the collection tube and requisition form included with your kit

Some public health units may also offer voluntary, rapid antigen screening for unvaccinated students and children without covid 19 symptoms and use rapid antigen screening to support continued in-person learning for non-exposed cohorts and avoid school-wide dismissals.

Health and safety measures at schools

All public and private schools are open for in-person learning for the 2021-22 school year. Remote learning will continue to be an option for families.

Here are some of the measures that are in place to keep kids safe at school.

  • Provincewide ventilation improvements:
    • school boards will continue to optimize air quality in schools through improved ventilation and filtration. Learn more about ventilation improvements.
  • Wearing a mask:
    • students in Grades 1 to 12 must wear a mask or face covering in schools and on school transportation
    • we encourage students in kindergarten to wear a mask or face covering
    • school staff and school bus drivers must wear medical masks
  • Students and staff must screen for covid 19 symptoms every day
  • Extra-curricular activities will be allowed with some modifications
  • Students can share materials during recess, in shared spaces and indoors with appropriate physical distancing
  • Regular hand washing or using alcohol-based hand sanitizer and other everyday actions like sneezing and coughing into your sleeve
  • Shared spaces will be allowed, for example homerooms, libraries, tech labs and cafeterias, when they follow indoor gathering measures

Read measures for schools Read measures for child care

Screen before you go

Take the covid 19 screening every day before you go to school or child care. We update the screening tool based on public health advice.

Monitor cases in schools

Get the data about covid 19 cases in schools.

Monitor cases in child care

Get the data about covid 19 cases in licensed child care.

Mandatory vaccination disclosure

For the 2021-22 school year, there is a vaccination disclosure policy for all:

  • school board employees
  • staff in private schools
  • staff in licensed child care settings

Staff who are not immunized against covid 19 must complete a rapid antigen test three times per week.


Improving ventilation

As part of our plan to keep students and schools safe for the 2021-2022 school year, school boards have improved ventilation in classrooms. This includes:

  • running ventilation systems longer (for example, two hours or more before and after school) to improve air flow and using the highest grade filters possible (for example, MERV 13)
  • increasing frequency of filter changes throughout the school year
  • increasing fresh air intake
  • having standalone high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter units in all occupied junior and senior kindergarten classrooms
  • having standalone high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter units in all occupied learning spaces without mechanical ventilation, including classrooms, gyms, libraries, lunchrooms, childcare spaces and administrative spaces that don’t have mechanical ventilation

School boards must assess and maintain ventilation systems throughout the year to ensure they are in good working order.

99% of schools have increased fresh air intake, are using higher-grade filters, running ventilation systems longer and have increased frequency of filter changes.

Check your school board’s website to find out about ventilation improvements, such as the number of HEPA filter units in place.

Other upgrades

We are also building better infrastructure by:

  • supporting remote learning by investing in network and broadband infrastructure
  • installing water bottle refilling stations to improve access to safe drinking water
  • supporting renovations to enable better physical distancing

Vaccines

Vaccines are safe, effective and the best way to stay protected from covid 19.

They are an important tool to help to stop the spread of the virus and allow students and families to safely resume activities.

Get the facts about vaccines for children and youth.

Learn about booking a covid 19 vaccine in Ontario.


Find mental health services

If this is an emergency or you or someone you know is in immediate danger, call 911 or go to your nearest hospital or emergency department.

There are mental health services for children and youth who are feeling anxious or are experiencing other mental health or addiction challenges. Many services are available online or by phone.

Contact your child’s principal to learn about mental health supports and services at your child’s school.

2 people hugging

Call a free helpline

Call a helpline to speak with a professional counsellor. These helplines are free, anonymous and confidential. You can call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Parent fact sheet in multiple languages

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