Introduction

Overview of operational guidance

This document is intended to support school boards and school authorities in the safe reopening and operation of schools for the 2020-2021 school year. This document also applies to child care centres and before and after school programs that operate within schools.

In the event of a discrepancy between this guidance and a directive of the Chief Medical Officer of Health, the directive prevails.

The Ministry of Education is requesting that school boards work in collaboration with local public health units (PHUs) and other local health partners to ensure that schools can reopen and operate safely. The COVID-19 Guidance: School Outbreak Management, which can be found at COVID 19: Guidance for the Health Sector, provides the direction for public health on the management of COVID-19 cases, contacts and outbreaks in schools.

While the focus of this guidance document is on the new health, safety and operational measures that are required in order to safely reopen and operate schools, please note that every effort should continue to be made to uphold the welcoming and caring environment that schools provide for children and families.

Additional information is available on the provincial COVID-19 website, including resources to help stop the spread, sector specific resources, including helpful posters, mental health resources and other information. If you have further questions or require clarification, please contact your Ministry of Education Regional Office.

Updates to operational guidance

The Ministry of Education originally published this guidance in August 2020 and updated it in November 2020. The ministry has made the following updates in February 2021:

  • Added guidance outlining that schools and school boards will be required to conduct on-site confirmation of self-screening of staff (both elementary and secondary), secondary students, and visitors.
  • Clarified that school administrators should develop a process to implement on-site screening procedures.
  • Clarified that staff and secondary students are expected to show proof or confirmation daily that they have self-screened.
  • Revised guidance for sibling and household self-isolation requirements. If an individual (student or staff member) develops symptoms and their self-screening indicates they should stay home and seek testing, their siblings and other household members are required to stay home and quarantine until the individual with symptoms receives a negative COVID-19 test result or receives an alternative diagnosis from a health care professional.
  • Clarified that if a symptomatic individual tests positive or is not tested and does not receive an alternative diagnosis from a health care professional, the symptomatic individual must isolate (including from household members) for 10 days from symptom onset, and all household contacts must isolate until 14 days from their last contact with the symptomatic individual.

Contact information for regional offices with the Ministry of Education

Central Region

West Region

East Region

North Region (Sudbury and North Bay)

North Region (Thunder Bay)

Toronto Region

Management of COVID-19 in schools

Case definitions

The Ministry of Health maintains case definitions for a probable case and a confirmed case of COVID-19. These definitions are maintained on the Ontario Ministry of Health site and are subject to updating. Please refer to this site for the most current version of these key definitions.

Provincial closure protocols

The local public health unit (PHU) is responsible for:

  • determining if an outbreak exists
  • declaring an outbreak
  • providing direction on outbreak control measures to be implemented

The provincial COVID-19 outbreak case definition is listed below. The public health unit will determine which cohort(s) may be sent home (for self-isolation) in response to a case, an outbreak or if full school closure is required based on the extent of an outbreak. In some instances, the local public health unit may give school principals discretion, if necessary, to dismiss individuals or cohorts while awaiting the results of the public health investigation. There may be variability in scenarios based on local context and epidemiology, and the information in this document is intended as guidance only.

As outlined in the Ministry of Health COVID-19 Guidance: School Outbreak Management, an outbreak in a school is defined as two or more lab-confirmed COVID-19 cases in students or staff (or other visitors) 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). This document is maintained on the Ontario Ministry of Health’s COVID 19: Guidance for the Health Sector site, and is subject to updating.

The local public health unit will work with the school to determine whether epidemiological links (for example, cases in the same class, cases that are part of the same before and after school care cohort, cases that have assigned bus seats in close proximity to each other) exist between cases and whether transmission may have occurred in the school.

Reopening the school

The local PHU will provide direction on when cohorts of students can return to school or when the school can reopen. An 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. Basic preventive measures must be reinforced, and consideration should be given to implementing additional preventive measures and active surveillance as part of reopening.

Outbreak declared over

An outbreak will be declared over by the PHU. 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

Prevention and outbreak responsibilities

As part of the outbreak response, there should be well defined roles, responsibilities, and processes within the school board, school and the local PHU.

Schools are responsible for reporting:

  • a confirmed COVID-19 case associated with the school to the local PHU and to the Ministry of Education through the daily reporting tool where they have become aware of such a case
  • occupational illness to the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development, as well as to the workplace joint health and safety committee, the worker's labour union (if any), and the WSIB
  • absenteeism to the PHU and to EDU through the daily reporting tool, in accordance with provincial and local PHU direction

Local PHUs are responsible for:

  • determining if an outbreak in a school exists
  • managing the outbreak in collaboration with the school and other relevant partners
  • determining when the outbreak can be declared over

Review the COVID-19 Guidance: School Outbreak Management for a more extensive list of roles and responsibilities for PHUs.

Role of school administrators and school boards

School administrators and school boards should:

  • implement prevention measures found in guidance from the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Health and their local PHU. This includes having an accessible process in place to implement on-site screening procedures
  • cooperate with the local PHU, and other stakeholders as required
  • communicate with early years partners about COVID-19 in schools and school boards
  • maintain accurate records of staff, students and visitors. Schools should be able to provide PHUs with the name(s) and contact information of a designated point of contact for use during and/or after business hours, to ensure timely investigation and follow up cases, contacts and outbreaks (for example, classroom, bus, before and after school programs, extra-curricular activities)

This information should include up-to-date attendance records for all common school locations attended by staff and students, and transportation seating charts (where applicable), and contact information for those groups. This information should be provided to the PHU within 24 hours of request to ensure timely follow-up.

In general, schools should not report all instances of ill individuals in the school setting to the PHU as these are frequent occurrences and typically students have non-specific symptoms, however, as required by section 28 of the Health Protection and Promotion Act, school principals are required to report to the medical officer of health if they are of the opinion that a pupil has or may have a communicable disease.

Principals should contact the PHU if they have concerns about student related absences or attendance concerns within their school community.

The local PHU may be consulted if there are questions about the management of individuals with symptoms, environmental cleaning, and other measures, as necessary.

The PHU is responsible for conducting case and contact management activities and measures will be taken to ensure privacy and avoid disclosure of details to the school community that would lead to identification of a confirmed or probable COVID-19 case.

Communicating with the school community

Parents, students and staff have an understandable interest in knowing when a COVID-19 positive case has been identified in their school.

All school boards and schools will create a COVID-19 advisory section on their website where they will clearly post information and updates regarding confirmed cases of COVID-19 that involves a student or a staff member in a school setting.

Note that no personal information will be made public. As cases for students or staff members are resolved, boards and schools will update the COVID-19 advisory section of their website to remove information about these cases.

In the interests of privacy, information posted by boards to school communities will not identify the student or staff member that has received a positive COVID-19 test.

If public health advises that a class, cohort or a school will be closed for a period of time, parents, students and staff will be notified immediately.

Notice of any closures of classes, cohorts or schools will be posted on school and school board COVID-19 advisory sections.

Reporting COVID-19 absences in schools

School boards must report on a daily basis any confirmed cases of COVID-19 within schools to the Ministry of Education via the school absence online reporting tool. COVID-19 board leads should verify the accuracy of this information. The purpose of collecting this data is to monitor the potential impact of COVID-19 across schools in Ontario. Note that the absence data collected will not be for the purpose of contact tracing and no personal information will be collected by the Ministry of Education.

Any suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19 within the school must be reported to the local public health unit to support case management and contact tracing and other activities in accordance with all applicable legislation, including the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. Public health officials will determine any additional steps required, including but not limited to the declaration of an outbreak and closure of classes or schools.

Management of ill individuals during school hours

This section applies to students, staff or other members or visitors to the school community, who become ill during the school day and on school premises.

Ill individuals should not attend school. Parents and guardians are required to screen their children for symptoms of illness every day before school using the COVID-19 school screening tool or a screening tool designated by the local public health unit. If an individual (student or staff member) develops symptoms and their self-screening indicates they should stay home and seek testing, their siblings and other household members are required to stay home and quarantine until the individual with symptoms receives a negative COVID-19 test or receives an alternative diagnosis from a health care professional.

Students, school staff and visitors are required to self-screen every day before attending school. The COVID-19 school and child care screening tool, or a screening tool designated by the local public health unit, is available to support parents and guardians, students, staff and essential visitors in meeting this requirement. School boards, in consultation with their PHUs, may develop their own screening tools or solutions, but the screening criteria at a minimum should align with the provincial tool and can include any additional guidance provided by the local PHU.

Students should be made aware, in age-appropriate and non-stigmatizing language, how to identify symptoms of COVID-19 and should be instructed to speak to a staff member immediately if they feel ill.

Schools should maintain a personal protective equipment (PPE) kit specifically for managing students or others who become ill during school hours. Staff should be trained to use this kit (for example, for proper donning and doffing).

On-site screening

Schools/school boards are required to confirm daily self-screening for staff (both elementary and secondary), secondary students, and visitors prior to or upon their arrival at school.

Secondary students, staff, and visitors will need to provide daily confirmation or proof that they have self-screened, in a form deemed appropriate and accessible by the school or school board (e.g., proof of completed paper copy of screener, mobile application indicating a “pass”) prior to or upon their arrival at school. The principal and those designated within the school will be responsible for ensuring all secondary students, staff, and visitors have completed and passed their daily COVID-19 self-screen.

At a minimum, staff, secondary students, and visitors will need to show proof or confirmation of having self-screened. Any staff, student, or visitor that does not pass the on-site screening procedures will be asked to return home and self-isolate until they meet the criteria for return. At the advice of the local public health unit, schools and school boards may choose to implement additional on-site screening measures based on local circumstances.

If an individual, including a student, staff, contractor, visitor, parent or guardian, becomes ill while at school, including before and after school care affiliated with the school, it is recommended that:

  • the ill individual should be immediately separated from others, in a separate isolation room where possible
  • anyone providing care to the ill individual should maintain as much physical distance as possible
  • the person caring for the individual should wear a surgical or procedural mask and eye protection and be trained on proper use of PPE, including donning and doffing
  • if tolerated, the ill individual should also wear a surgical or procedural mask
  • hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette should be practiced while the ill individual is waiting to be picked up
  • cleaning of the isolation room area and other areas of the school where the ill individual was should be conducted as soon as reasonably possible after the ill individual leaves
  • the ill individual and their parent or guardian be advised to seek medical advice, including the recommendation of testing for COVID-19 as appropriate or as advised by their health care professional. Ensure direction is aligned with screening and return to school direction. Note that individuals do not require a medical note or proof of a negative test to return to school
  • communication protocols and plans to update and inform necessary stakeholders within the school community while maintaining confidentiality of the ill individual should be initiated
  • regular school functions can continue unless directed otherwise by the local PHU
  • the ill individual and their parent or guardian be advised that all asymptomatic household contacts of the symptomatic individual are required to quarantine until the symptomatic individual receives a negative COVID-19 test result or receives an alternative diagnosis by a health care professional. If the symptomatic individual tests positive, or is not tested and does not receive an alternative diagnosis from a health care professional, the symptomatic individual must isolate (including from household members) for 10 days from symptom onset, and all household contacts must isolate until 14 days from their last contact with the symptomatic individual.

A list of students and staff in the school who were in contact with or in the same cohort as the ill individual should be prepared. Those who are identified as potential close contacts should remain cohorted. The local PHU will provide any further direction on testing and isolation of these contacts, if necessary. In most instances testing and isolation would only be recommended for contacts of a confirmed COVID-19 case.

Scenario: a student becomes ill during the school day

The following actions also apply to an individual, including students, staff, contractors, visitors, parents or guardians, who becomes ill while at school, including before and after school care affiliated with the school.

Recommended action by teacher

The teacher should:

  • be aware of symptom descriptions and alert the principal if a student is ill
  • continue to monitor students and themselves for symptoms

Recommended action by principal

The principal should:

  • coordinate immediate student pick-up and designate an area to isolate the student until parent or guardian arrival
  • advise student and any staff attending to them to use provided PPE kit
  • advise student to remain at home and continue with remote learning, if they are well enough to do so
  • if required, advise all staff of the concern while protecting confidentiality and responding with sensitivity in the circumstances
  • as required, contact superintendent and make them aware of the situation
  • coordinate and ensure environmental cleaning or disinfection of the space and items used by the individual or individuals
  • monitor school population for possible new or additional illnesses
  • report in the daily attendance tracking tool as necessary
  • report to the PHU if necessary
  • dismiss, at the discretion of the local public health unit, an individual or cohort for self-isolation

Recommended action by school board

The superintendent should:

  • inform the board COVID-19 lead and others at the board office as required
  • provide support to the school principal as needed

The board COVID-19 lead should:

  • continue to monitor attendance and student absences at the board level

Recommended action by parent and student

The parent and student should:

  • consult and follow the guidance of a health care professional
  • follow the guidance under the return to school section
  • if a student is tested for COVID-19, follow the guidance of the PHU, health care professional and related direction for isolation and returning to school
  • ensure that all household contacts quarantine until the ill individual tests negative for COVID-19 or receives an alternative diagnosis from a health care professional
  • if the symptomatic student tests positive or is not tested and does not receive an alternative diagnosis from a health care professional, the symptomatic student must isolate (including from household members) for 10 days from symptom onset, and all household contacts must isolate until 14 days from their last contact with the symptomatic student

Management of individuals exposed to COVID-19 outside of the school

This section applies to individuals closely related to a school community, such as bus drivers, parents or members of a student's or staff member's household, who test positive for COVID-19 outside of the school.

Situations will arise where students, staff, essential visitors, or contractors or teachers may be exposed to COVID-19 outside of the school environment (for example, to family members that don't attend the school, social contacts outside of school).

Anyone who has been identified as a close contact of a COVID-19 case, such as household members, should follow directions from the PHU on self-isolation. Contacts who have had high risk exposure to a case should self-isolate for 14 days from their last exposure.

Schools should have necessary arrangements in place to support continuity of education for students who require isolation as well as their siblings who are also required to isolate by virtue of being a close contact. Where possible, boards and schools should work to support a transition to remote learning within 24 hours.

For periods of remote learning extending beyond three days, students should be provided with a combination of synchronous and asynchronous learning activities.

Scenario: School bus driver becomes ill during the work day

Recommended action by bus driver

The bus driver should:

  • notify their employer
  • use the provincial self-assessment tool to assess symptoms and, if indicated, get tested
  • consult a health care professional, as needed, and follow their recommendations
  • if tested for COVID-19, follow the isolation guidance provided by the health care professional
  • follow guidelines on return to work depending on scenario
  • inform asymptomatic household members that they are required to quarantine until the symptomatic individual receives a negative COVID-19 test result or receives an alternative diagnosis by a health care professional
  • if the symptomatic individual is not tested and does not receive an alternative diagnosis from a health care professional, the symptomatic individual must isolate (including from household members) for 10 days from symptom onset, and all household contacts must isolate until 14 days from their last contact with the symptomatic individual

Recommended action by consortium

Bus drivers who are ill should:

  • not be working and should be encouraged to consult their health care professional
  • work with school bus operators to ensure bus(es) undergo deep cleaning as required and alternate drivers are found to deliver the service

Recommended action by principal

The principal should:

  • communicate with the consortium as required and maintain situational awareness
  • update school board COVID-19 lead as required

Recommended action by school board

The board COVID-19 lead should:

  • stay connected with the consortium to maintain situational awareness for bus operations of the board and bus driver illnesses

The superintendent should:

  • inform the board COVID-19 lead, others as required and support principal as needed

Scenario: School bus driver tests positive for COVID-19

Recommended action by bus driver

The bus driver should:

  • notify their employer
  • follow directions from the local PHU on self-isolation, including informing household contacts that they must isolate until 14 days from their last contact with the symptomatic individual consult a health care professional, as needed, and follow their recommendations
  • follow guidelines on return to work

Recommended action by consortium

The consortium should:

  • notify potentially impacted schools
  • work with school bus operators to ensure bus(es) undergo deep cleaning and alternate drivers are found to deliver the service
  • provide bus cohort list and seating charts to schools and schoolboard as required
  • communicate with impacted school communities as appropriate
  • notify the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development as appropriate

Recommended action by principal

The principal should:

  • follow the direction of the PHU
  • provide class and cohort lists and seating charts to the PHU
  • in consultation with the PHU notify impacted cohorts outlining what to expect and share useful resources with families
  • monitor for new and additional student illnesses in the school and classroom(s)
  • connect with superintendent and make them aware of the situation communicate with impacted schools, school boards and communities as appropriate

Recommended action by parent and student

The parent and student should:

  • adhere to direction provided by the local PHU

Recommended action by school board

The board COVID-19 lead should:

  • continue to monitor the situation and liaise with the Ministry of Education as necessary

The superintendent should:

  • inform the board COVID-19 lead, others as required and support principal as needed

Scenario: Parent tests positive for COVID-19

This scenario applies to anyone who shares a household with a student or staff member in a school community.

If a parent receives a positive test for COVID-19, he or she is not obligated to inform the school of their test result. However, it is strongly recommended.

Children in a household where a parent or other member has tested positive, are considered to have high risk exposure and should self-isolate for 14 days from their last exposure.

The PHU will provide direction to close contacts, including household members of a person diagnosed with COVID-19.

The PHU will provide direction to the school principal on the actions to be taken with the school.

Note: Testing recommendations for close contacts are made by the PHU, a health care professional, or individuals can also utilize the COVID self-assessment tool for further direction.

Recommended action by teacher

The teacher should:

  • support continuation of learning for any students who need to isolate

Recommended action by principal

The principal should:

  • if student is in the school, when notified by the parent, coordinate immediate student pick-up and designate an area to isolate the student until pickup
  • ask that the student or parent or guardian as appropriate follow the direction of their health care professional and PHU
  • ensure student portfolio information (that is, class list, seating charts, transportation details, etc.) is up-to-date. Note: Be prepared to provide this information to the PHU upon request
  • support PHU next steps
  • connect with the superintendent and make them aware of the situation
  • coordinate and ensure environmental cleaning or disinfection of the space and items used by the individual or individuals
  • if the student tests positive, refer to management of positive COVID-19 diagnosis in the school
    • monitor the school population for new or additional illness
    • report in the daily tracking tool as necessary

Recommended action by school board

The superintendent should:

  • inform the board COVID-19 lead and support principal as needed

The board COVID-19 lead should:

  • continue to monitor the situation and liaise with the Ministry of Education as necessary

Recommended action by parent and student

The parent and student should:

  • continue to adhere to advice provided by local public health

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 cannot attend school until they are cleared by their local PHU.
  • Any individuals who test positive must remain in isolation and cannot return to school until cleared in accordance with public health guidance. Note that individuals do not need to provide a medical note or proof of a negative result to return to school.
  • Every individual who has tested positive for COVID-19 is contacted by their local PHU for further follow-up.
  • The local PHU will notify the school of a positive COVID-19 diagnosis. In some cases, the local PHU may not be the same local PHU as the school; and 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 the local PHU 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).
  • Classroom cohorts (students and staff affiliated with the cohort) will generally be considered at high risk of exposure.
  • 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.

Scenario: Staff or student has tested positive for COVID-19

Recommended action by teacher

The teacher should:

  • ensure continuation of learning for any isolating students
  • continue to monitor students and themselves for symptoms

Recommended action by principal

The principal should:

  • follow PHU direction for management of cases and contacts in schools; the PHU will make the determination if an outbreak exists or not
  • communicate with school community as appropriate
  • ensure student and sibling(s) portfolio information (that is, class list, seating charts, transportation details etc.) is up-to-date and share this information to PHU upon request
  • coordinate and ensure environmental cleaning or disinfection of the space and items used by the individual or individuals
  • connect with the superintendent and make them aware of the situation
  • monitor school population for new and additional illnesses and symptoms
  • report absence in the daily absence tracking tool

Recommended action by school board

The superintendent should:

  • inform the board COVID-19 lead, other board staff and support principal as needed

The board COVID-19 lead should:

  • continue to monitor the situation and liaise with the Ministry of Education as necessary
  • work with PHU as required

Recommended action by parent and student

The parent and student should:

  • engage in continuation of learning if able
  • communicate regularly with the school to inform daily routines
  • follow the direction of the PHU on isolation protocol (including for isolation of household contacts)

Special education

In order to ensure that students with special education needs are supported as schools reopen, school boards will need to consider additional planning and transition time for students with special education needs to support a smooth transition.

School boards should support attendance options including offering daily attendance to students with special education needs for whom adapted timetables or remote learning may be challenging based on the student's special education needs.

School boards should work with partners to develop local protocols for school access by regulated health professionals, regulated social service professionals and paraprofessionals for the purpose of delivering school-based supports and services. Protocols should include support for remote delivery where in-school delivery is not possible.

Scenario: Student with special education needs in a special education class (congregated or integrated class) has needs that conflict with COVID-19 safety protocols.

Recommended action by teacher

The teacher should:

  • meet proactively (face to face or virtually) with parent or guardian and special education staff to anticipate and discuss possible changes to accommodations in the Individual Education Plan (IEP)
  • consider additional transition time to support smooth transitions

Recommended action by principal

The principal should:

  • ensure coordination of staff and supports for student needs as necessary, for example, support staff and PPE
  • coordinate and ensure environmental cleaning or disinfection of the space and items used by the individual or individuals
  • support planning for possible online learning
  • inform transportation of accommodations as needed
  • inform special education superintendent or designate of accommodations as requested
  • engage and support in updating the IEP as necessary

Recommended action by school board

The school board should:

  • with partners, ensure consistent practices across the system regarding students with special education needs (that is, access by regulated health professionals and service providers and paraprofessionals)
  • ensure continued access to assistive technology

Recommended action by parent and student

The parent and student should:

  • work proactively with the school to anticipate and discuss possible accommodations to support the needs of the student
  • continue to adhere to current infection prevention and control practices
  • communicate regularly with the school to inform daily routines

Return to school

While an individual suspected to have COVID-19 is waiting for test results they must be in isolation and cannot attend school in person. The individual can attend school remotely if they feel well enough to participate. All household contacts of symptomatic individuals must also quarantine, until the symptomatic household member receives a negative COVID-19 test result or receives an alternative diagnosis by a health care professional.

Individuals waiting for test results are to self-isolate (including from household members) until the test results are back. If an individual tests positive, they must self-isolate (including from household members) for a period of 10 days from symptom onset.

Additionally, individuals with symptoms that are not tested should self-isolate (including from household members) for a period of 10 days. Whether they are tested or not, the period of self-isolation should start from the date of symptom onset. If, however, the individual has severe illness (requiring ICU level of care) or severe immune compromise, then the self-isolation period is 20 days from symptom onset.

If a symptomatic individual tests positive, or is not tested and does not receive an alternative diagnosis from a health care professional, all household contacts must isolate until 14 days from their last contact with the symptomatic individual.

Individuals who have had a COVID-19 test because of symptoms but who test negative can return to school if they do not have a fever, if their symptoms have been improving for at least 24 hours, if they have not been directed to self-isolate and provided they have had no contact to a confirmed case of COVID-19.

Individuals who have traveled out of the country are required to follow federal guidelines and law and isolate for 14 days upon their return.

Where a student or staff member has tested positive for COVID-19, the local PHU will be in contact with the school to provide further direction on returning to school. The individual cannot return to school until cleared by the PHU.

Note that individuals do not need to provide a medical note or proof of negative result to return to school.

If an ill individual does not have COVID-19

For an ill individual who has a known alternative diagnosis provided by a health care professional, return to school can occur if they do not have a fever and their symptoms have been improving for at least 24 hours. Individuals will still need to use the  COVID-19 school and child care screening tool, or a screening tool designated by the local public health unit, daily before attending school and may also be required to provide confirmation of self-screening prior to or upon arrival to school.

Records management

Working with the local public health unit

In the event that schools are made aware of a positive diagnosis of COVID-19 for staff or students, it is essential that key information pertaining to staff and students be available upon request by the local PHU for the purposes of contact tracing. This information needs to be accessible by school administrators on short notice, both during and outside of school hours, when requested by the PHU. School board COVID-19 leads are expected to establish a system with their local PHUs to ensure that these records can be accessed at all times.

The following information should be available:

  • attendance records
  • class lists and seating charts
  • before-and-after child care lists
  • transportation lists and seating charts
  • up to date contact information for parents, staff and students
  • special assignments and programs (for example, Education Community Partnership program (formerly Care Treatment Custody Corrections), Special Education)
  • records of essential visitors

Resources and templates

Appendix A: School board requirements in preparation for September 2020

School boards should:

  • identify board COVID-19 lead who will provide COVID-19 related information to the Regional Field Office of the Ministry of Education
  • identify key contact(s) in the local public health unit(s)
  • ensure that all schools have established an isolation area(s) for when a student is ill
  • refine communication plans to stakeholders regarding health and safety measures and outbreak protocols for start-up
  • ensure schools are prepared to support contact tracing (that is, class cohort lists and seating charts, school bus cohort lists and seating charts, before-school and after-school care cohort lists)
  • finalize training plans for all staff for health and safety and outbreak protocols
  • ensure preparation for continuity of leadership in the event of administrator illness or the need to isolate
  • prepare contingencies to support student learning when staff are ill or absent
  • create and communicate a system-wide protocol for school visitors
  • consider cleaning models that address shared spaces, alternate learning spaces and shared equipment
  • be prepared to pivot between face-to-face and remote or distance learning

Other suggested key contacts for boards and schools

Boards may wish to identify key contacts within the community who can provide supports to families where required, such as:

  • transportation companies
  • local COVID-19 assessment centers
  • municipal social services and children's services department
  • local hospitals
  • any other key contacts in the school community

Appendix B: Example of COVID-19 district school board and community contact list

  • School board
  • Ministry of Education regional contact
    • Office
    • Cell
    • Email
  • Board COVID-19 lead
    • Office
    • Cell
    • Email

Community key contacts and resources

  • Contact name in the local public health unit
    • Office
    • Cell
    • Email
  • Number of COVID-19 testing locations (please add additional sites and information below as necessary)
    • Testing location
    • Contact information
  • Student transportation contact
    • Address
    • Phone number
    • Email
  • Local community resource partners
    • Contact information

Contact information for regional offices with the Ministry of Education

Central Region

West Region

East Region

North Region (Sudbury and North Bay)

North Region (Thunder Bay):

Toronto Region

Updated: August 27, 2021
Published: August 26, 2020