COVID-19 Symptoms/Exposure Protocol
Students or staff with symptoms BEFORE the school day begins
Students or staff who show signs/symptoms of COVID-19 before the start of the school/work day should:
- Stay at home
- Seek medical advice, including the recommendation of testing for COVID-19 as appropriate or as advised by their medical provider
- In some circumstances, special efforts may be needed to facilitate access to COVID-19 testing to meet the needs of some staff or students/families
- Remain isolated and excluded from school until test results are received as per COVID-19 Class Order.
UPDATE: As of September 16, 2020, household members and close contacts of a symptomatic individual are no longer required to self-isolate. Siblings of a symptomatic student do not have to be sent home or miss school while awaiting test results for the symptomatic student.
- If an individual tests positive for COVID-19, Halton Region Public Health will notify the individual, the close contacts and the school.
Parents and guardians are able to access the COVID-19 Self-Assessment Tool for Schools HERE.
Students or staff with symptoms DURING the school day
Staff are to monitor self and students for signs/symptoms of COVID-19 while at school, including before and after school care affiliated with the school.
- Students should be immediately separated from others and supervised in a designated room/space. Their parent/guardian should be contacted to pick them up immediately. Ill students should not take school or public transportation.
- School Protocol should include procedures for picking up students with signs/symptoms of COVID-19.
- Any staff or essential visitors with signs/symptoms of COVID-19 must go home immediately. If they cannot return home immediately, they must be isolated in a designated room/space until their departure.
- Any staff or essential visitors with sign/symptoms of COVID-19 should avoid using public transportation.
- Advise the ill individual and/or their parent or guardian to have the ill individual seek medical advice, including the recommendation of testing for COVID-19 as appropriate or as advised by their medical provider.
- In general, schools should not report all instances of ill individuals in the school setting to Halton Region Public Health as these are frequent occurrences and typically students have nonspecific symptoms.
- If an individual tests positive for COVID-19, Halton Region Public Health will notify the individual and the school.
- Each school and Board site will have a designated isolation area for staff/students/visitors who have signs/symptoms of COVID-19 and are waiting transportation home.
- It may be necessary to have more than one designated isolation area depending on the size of the school.
- Students in the isolation room will be supervised according to the regular school supervision protocols.
- Designated staff member providing care to a student, staff member or essential visitor with signs/symptoms of COVID-19 must wear PPE from the kit including a medical mask, eye protection, gloves and gown and maintain as much physical distance as possible. Hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette should be practiced while the ill individual is waiting to be picked up. A medical mask is worn by the person with signs/symptoms of COVID-19 (if tolerated).
- Thorough cleaning and disinfection of the room/area and any items touched by the symptomatic individual must be completed upon their departure, if cleaning is delayed appropriate signage will be posted on the front door until cleaning and disinfection is complete.
When can a student or staff with symptoms return to school/work?
- If the student or staff member is assessed by their health care provider and cleared to return to school, he/she can return to school if it has been at least 24 hours since their symptoms started improving. Medical notes are generally not required for return to school.
- If the student or staff member is recommended for COVID-19 testing by their Health Care Provider, and the tests come back negative*, he/she may return to school if it has been at least 24 hours since their symptoms started improving, provided:
- There is no known high-risk exposure
- The student or staff member is not advised by Halton Region Public Health or health care provider to self-isolate
- If a symptomatic student or staff member was recommended for testing by their Health Care Provider but has refused testing he/she must self-isolate for 14 days and be symptom-free for at least 24 hours before returning to school.
*Proof of negative tests should not be required for return to school.
In the event of a confirmed or probable case of COVID-19, Halton Region Public Health will notify the school within 24 hours to provide further information on contact tracing and outbreak management. A letter will be provided to notify staff and parents/ guardians of the COVID-19 exposure.
Public Health will provide additional information and follow-up with individuals confirmed with COVID-19 and will find out who the individual’s close contacts are and contact them. In these cases, the Board or School will need to assist in providing contact information. Each school and or work location is responsible for maintaining daily contact and Visitor Protocol Forms for all essential visitors. Schools will maintain a record of classroom and bus seating plans and must ensure that all contact information is continually updated.
An outbreak in a school is defined as two or more lab-confirmed COVID-19 cases in students and/or staff 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).
For more information, see Appendix B – School Outbreak Management Halton Region Public Health Support for Schools with COVID-19 Case or Outbreak.