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Hastings and Prince Edward Public Health
elementary students in class wearing face masks

School/Childcare and COVID-19

Precautions remain in place to reduce the risk of transmission of all respiratory illness in the school setting.  These include:

  • Provincial screening and isolation requirements – Aug 31, 2022
  • Enhanced cleaning
  • Access to PPE
  • Access to vaccination for anyone aged 6 months and over.
  • Guidance to stay home when sick – with COVID-19 symptoms or any other contagious illness. Return 24 hours after you are feeling better (48 hours for gastro-intestinal symptoms).
  • Masks are recommended for:
    • Individuals who have symptoms of COVID-19, for 10 day after their symptoms began (even if they do not test positive for COVID-19).
    • Household or other close contacts of individuals who have had symptoms of COVID-19, for 10 days after their last contact.
  • Review the school screener for detailed information about when masking is recommended.

As we learn to live with COVID-19, it remains important to screen your child each day – for symptoms of COVID-19 or symptoms of any other infectious illness. If your child has any symptoms of COVID-19, or any other infectious illness, they should stay home until they can pass the screening tool.

How do I screen my child for symptoms each day?

What happens if my child is exposed to someone with symptoms?

All individuals who have been exposed to someone with symptoms of COVID-19 must follow the guidance available at ontario.ca/exposed. Individuals will have different requirements to mask or stay home, depending on their exposure date, level of contact, and whether they are immunocompromised.

What happens if my child tests positive for COVID-19 on a Rapid Antigen Test?

Positive results on Rapid Antigen Tests do not need to be reported to the public health unit, or to the school. The individual who tests positive must follow instructions to stay home, should only return to school once they pass the school screening tool, and should follow any masking recommendations upon their return to school.

What if my child develops symptoms at school, including before/after school care affiliated with the school?

  • Parents will be notified to pick-up their child.
  • The sick child will be cared for in a room until parent/guardian arrives.
  • The child will be asked to wear a mask.
  • The child will be able to return to school once they have passed the provincial screening.

What if my child has an ongoing medical condition that mimics symptoms of illness?

Some medical conditions, like allergies, are predictable and the symptoms do mimic respiratory illness. Follow directions on the screening tool for more information.

How do I inform my child’s school about their illness/test results?

Continue to report your child’s absence to the school as you would usually do. However, you are not required to report your child’s COVID-19 symptoms or test results to the school or child care as part of absence reporting.

Should I get my child vaccinated against COVID-19?

COVID-19 vaccine is safe, effective, and it works. Vaccination is the best way for eligible individuals to protect themselves, and those around them, from serious illness related to the virus. In addition, vaccination will help us all get back to the things we love – safely. It is important to know that the COVID-19 vaccine is not mandatory but can help reduce the risk of serious illness related to COVID-19.

If your child is 6 months of age or older, they are eligible for COVID-19 vaccination. Find clinic hours, locations, as well as FAQ about youth vaccines, on our COVID-19 vaccination for kids & youth page.

What else can I do to help my child stay healthy and safe?

  • Make sure your child is up-to-date with all recommended childhood vaccines. Contact your health care provider to get your child up to date. All school-age children should get an influenza (flu) vaccine every season, unless otherwise directed by a health care provider.
  • Practice proper hand washing techniques at home, especially before and after eating, and after sneezing, coughing, and adjusting a mask. Make hand washing fun by singing a song that lasts at least 20 seconds and explain to your child why hand washing is important.
  • Practice putting on and taking off a face covering safely with your child, so they will be prepared to wear it if/when needed. Discuss the benefits of wearing a mask with your child and the importance of being kind and respectful to others who may choose to wear one.
  • Plan daily routines for before and after school. Make a list of what to pack for school in the morning (e.g. hand sanitizer, mask if your child is wearing one, 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 mask in the laundry, etc.).
  • Remind your child about the measures that are in place to keep them healthy and safe:
    • Sanitizing hands before entering school and classrooms.
    • Washing or sanitizing hands several times throughout the day.
    • Wearing a mask as needed or due to preference.
    • Covering coughs and sneezes properly.
    • Not sharing food or personal items like pencils or erasers.

I have another question not listed on this web page. Who do I contact?

If you are not able to find answers to your questions on our website, or at ontario.ca/exposed, please contact HPEPH’s COVID-19 information line by completing our online inquiry form.

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COVID-19 VACCINES IN HPEPH

All individuals ≥ 5 yrs of age are eligible to receive a fall COVID-19 booster dose 6 mo after previous COVID-19 vaccine. Bivalent booster doses are available to individuals aged 12 and over.

Appointments can be booked through the provincial vaccine booking site, or by calling 1-833-943-3900 from 8 am to 8 pm, 7 days a week.  

COVID-19 PROTOCOLS

For the most up to date information on current provincial guidelines and advice in case of exposure, visit Ontario.ca/page/public-health-measures-and-advice.

The Ministry of Health has launched a new toll-free line as an additional resource to help answer questions from the public regarding evolving COVID-19 testing and isolation guidance. The line can be reached at 1-888-777-0730, and is available from 8 am to 6 pm, 7 days a week.