If are you looking for general information about COVID-19, please visit our main COVID-19 web page. The content below is for parents and guardians supporting the return of their children to school.
As the school year gets underway, students are adjusting to many different protocols. Modelling healthy behaviours at home and talking to your children about new processes will help them adjust to changes in the school environment. You can also visit and download the COVID-19 Parents’ Guide 2020-2021 School Year for helpful tips and suggestions.
Most importantly, parents/caregivers are required to screen their child daily before they attend school.
How do I screen my child?
- Check in with your child each morning for signs of illness using the online school screening tool or the printable daily screening tool. If your child does not pass the screening process,
- Review “My Child/Student Did Not Pass COVID-19 Screening – What Do I Do?”.
- Review the Return to School Protocol, to learn when your child can return to school.
- Be familiar with local COVID-19 assessment centre sites in the event you or your child develops symptoms.
Positive Case or School Outbreak
Review the following documents to learn about the protocols in place should a student or staff member test positive for COVID-19 or a school COVID-19 outbreak is declared by HPEPH.
- School Protocol When Staff or Students Test Positive for COVID-19
- School Protocol When a COVID-19 Outbreak is Declared
What other precautions should I take as a parent/caregiver?
Keep as much distance as possible between you and others (2 metres is best):
- During drop-off and pick-up.
- During interactions with a teacher, school staff, or other parents and students.
Be prepared to pick up students promptly if they show symptoms at school.
You will be asked to pick up your child from school if they show symptoms. Make sure your contact information is current at school, including emergency contacts and individuals authorized to pick up your child(ren). If that list includes anyone who is at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19, consider identifying an alternate person. Be familiar with your school’s plan for how they will communicate with families when a positive case or exposure to someone with COVID-19 is identified and ensure student privacy is upheld.
Plan for possible school closures or periods of quarantine.
If transmission is increasing in our community or if multiple children or staff test positive for COVID-19, the school building might close. Similarly, if a close contact of your child (within or outside of school) tests positive for COVID-19, your child may need to stay home and quarantine for 14 days. You may need to consider the possibility of working from home, taking leave from work, or identifying someone who can supervise your child in the event there is a school closure or your child has to quarantine.
Plan for transportation:
- If your child rides a bus, face coverings while on the bus are mandatory for students Grades 4-12 and strongly encouraged for students grades K-3. Remind your child about the importance of following bus rules, including assigned seating and physical distancing, if possible.
- If carpooling, plan on every child in the carpool and the driver wearing face coverings for the entire trip. Consider finding families within your child’s group or cohort at school to be part of the carpool.
What else can I do to help my child feel prepared and stay healthy?
- Make sure your child is up-to-date with all recommended childhood vaccines. All school-age children should get an influenza (flu) vaccine every season, unless otherwise directed by a health care provider. This is especially important this year because we do not yet know if being sick with COVID-19 at the same time as the flu will result in more severe illness. If you do not have a health care provider, please contact HPEPH’s Immunization line at 613-966-5500 / 1-800-267-2803 ext. 221 to make an appointment.
- Practise proper hand washing techniques at home, especially before and after eating, and after sneezing, coughing, and adjusting a face cover. Make hand washing fun by singing a song that lasts at least 20 seconds and explain to your child why hand washing is important.
- Practise putting on and taking off a face covering safely with your child.
- Plan daily routines for before and after school. Make a list of what to pack for school in the morning (e.g. hand sanitizer, an extra face covering, snacks and lunch, and a personal water bottle) and what to do when your child returns home from school (e.g. wash hands immediately, put face coverings in the laundry, etc.).
- Talk to your child about some of the new measures that are in place, and how they can help keep your child healthy and safe:
- Sanitizing hands before entering school and classrooms.
- Washing or sanitizing hands several times throughout the day.
- Wearing a face covering, if in grades 4 to 12 (strongly encouraged for grades K-3).
- Covering coughs and sneezes properly.
- Keeping a distance between themselves and others.
- Not sharing food or personal items like pencils or erasers.
- Telling an adult if they are feeling sick at school.
- Physically distancing at lunch and recess
- Staying in cohorts to decrease contact with others.
- Visit PHO’s Preventing COVID-19: Tips for Children Attending School factsheet for more tips.