Ontario Releases COVID-19 Management Plan For Schools

Wednesday August 26th, 2020

Posted at 2:52pm

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The Ontario Government released the Operational Guidance: COVID-19 Management in Schools document Wednesday afternoon.

This guide to help schools identify and isolate COVID-19 cases, reduce the spread of COVID-19 in schools, and prevent and minimize outbreaks was developed in consultation with public health experts, including Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health.

In addition, Dr. Dirk Huyer, who was recently the Executive Lead for the COVID-19 Testing Approach at the Command Table and is the Chief Coroner for Ontario, will serve as Coordinator, Provincial Outbreak Response. Dr. Huyer will lead the province’s efforts to prevent and minimize COVID-19 outbreaks in a number of sectors, including the education, child care, agriculture and health care sectors.

Key elements of the guidance document explain:

  • The role of school boards and schools: keeping communities informed by creating a COVID-19 advisory section on both the board and school’s websites;
  • The role of local public health units: leading case and contact tracing activities, declaring outbreaks and directing closure of classrooms or schools where necessary;
  • The critical role of parents: screening their children every day before they go to school and keeping them home if they are ill;
  • Appropriate steps to take when a student or staff member tests positive for COVID-19, including notifying the school community while respecting individual privacy; and
  • Protocols to trigger various levels of public health responses or infection control measures. One case will trigger a public health response, two or more linked cases will trigger the declaration of an outbreak.

The new guidance includes the following:

  • A protocol has been developed to deal with students who become ill while they are at school, including isolation, and providing personal protective equipment to the ill student and staff attending to them;
  • A clear communications process will be followed, so parents will know if a student or staff member in a school tests positive for COVID-19;
  • School boards will be required to work closely with public health units to communicate updates in real time and determine whether a class or school must be closed;
    Led by Ontario Public Health, the government intends to surveillance test asymptomatic secondary students in schools.

The full document can be found here.

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