What happens when a coronavirus case is reported in an Ontario school

Sep 2 2020, 8:28 am

With school just around the corner, and around two million students returning to class, education during the COVID-19 pandemic is a top concern for many.

So Ontario’s Ministry of Health released guidelines on outbreak and case management in schools, which, according to top health officials, will be inevitable.

Daily Hive has broken down the health protocol and measures in place for when a student or staff tests positive for the virus and what the school must do to ensure the safety of the community.

If someone has symptoms

If a student starts showing symptoms at school, the principal must contact the parents, who must immediately pick up their child. While the student waits, they must self-isolate and staff must wear full PPE around them.

The materials and space where the student interacted with must be learned, with staff staying informed and the rest of the school body to be monitored.

The parents will be encouraged to test their child, and if test results come back negative, then they must wait 24 hours until the child’s symptoms are resolved.

If someone tests positive

The provincial guidelines state that is someone tests positive for COVID-19, then the local public health unit is responsible for the case.

Information is to be posted publicly on the school board’s and school’s website, but the individual will remain anonymous.

Contact tracing will also take place.

Students and staff can return to school after 14 days of isolation.

When an outbreak is confirmed

An outbreak is declared when two or more cases are confirmed by a lab within a 14-day period and are linked via being in the same class, after-care group, or school bus.

It’s then up to public health units to decide which cohorts in the school should self-isolate.

“If public health advises that a class, cohort or a school should be closed for a period of time, parents, students and staff will be notified immediately,” the provincial guidelines say.

The outbreak is declared over once 14 days have passed with no evidence of school-related transmission and if the one who was exposed to the initial outbreak is still awaiting test results.

Closures of schools

Whether a school closes or not is up to the discretion of the public health unit.

Schools will likely be closed if there is evidence of widespread transmission, and if it does close, then the entire school community may be tested.

If a family member tests positive

Family members of the student who test positive are encouraged to tell the school, but it’s not a legal requirement.

However, everyone in the household should self-isolate if someone in the family contracts coronavirus.

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