Return to School Protocol for Students with COVID-19 Symptoms

The Ontario COVID-19 School and Child Care Screening Tool


SECTION 1: Common Symptoms of COVID-19

  • Fever (temperature of 37.8°C or greater)
  • New or worsening cough (not related to other known causes/conditions)
  • Shortness or breath or difficulty breathing (not related to other known causes/conditions – e.g. asthma)
  • Decrease or loss of taste or smell (not related to other known causes/conditions – e.g. allergies, neurological disorders)

SECTION 2: Other Symptoms Associated with COVID-19

  • Sore throat (not related to other known causes/conditions – e.g. allergies, acid reflux)
  • Runny or stuffy/congested nose (not related to other known causes/conditions – e.g. allergies, being outside in cold weather)
  • Headache that is new and persistent, unusual, unexplained or long-lasting (not related to other known causes/conditions – e.g. tension headaches, chronic migraines)
  • Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea (not related to other known causes/conditions – e.g. transient vomiting due to anxiety in children, irritable bowel syndrome)
  • Fatigue, lethargy, muscle aches or a general feeling of being unwell that is unusual or unexplained. (not related to other known causes conditions – e.g. depression, insomnia, thyroid dysfunction)

What should you do next?

If your child reported or showed signs of ANY of the symptoms in SECTION 1

  • Your child should stay home from school and isolate immediately.
  • Contact your child’s health care provider for further advice or assessment. The health care provider can help you determine whether the symptoms are related to another condition or if they should get tested for COVID-19.

If your child reported or showed signs of having TWO OR MORE new or worsening symptom outlined in SECTION 2

  • Your child should stay home from school and isolate immediately.
  • Contact your child’s health care provider for further advice or assessment. The health care provider can help you determine whether the symptoms are related to another condition or if they should get tested for COVID-19.

If your child reported or showed signs of having only ONE new or worsening symptom outlined in SECTION 2

  • Your child should stay home from school for 24 hours to be monitored to see if they get better or worse.
  • If they start to feel better and symptoms are improving, they can return to school when well enough to do so and no COVID-19 test is needed.
  • If the symptom gets worse or they develop another symptom, you should contact your child’s health care provider for further advice or assessment. The health care provider can help you determine whether the symptoms are related to another condition or if they should get tested for COVID-19.

COVID-19 Test Results

What if the test results are POSITIVE for COVID-19?

  • If your child tests positive for COVID-19, Public Health will notify the parents and our school.
  • Your child (and all siblings living in the household) will have to stay home and self-isolate until he/she is cleared by Public Health to return to school.

What if the test results are NEGATIVE for COVID-19?

  • if your child gets tested for COVID-19 and the test comes back negative, he/she may return to school, provided:

* Mild symptoms like a runny nose do not have to be completely gone when your child returns to school provided the runny nose (or other mild symptom) is improving and other symptoms have stopped.


What if you do not want your child tested for COVID-19?

If your child was recommended for COVID-19 testing by your health care provider, but you (the parent) have refused to have your child tested, your child must self-isolate for 10 days from the onset of symptoms.

Your child may return to school after 10 days if –

* Mild symptoms like a runny nose do not have to be completely gone when your child returns to school provided the runny nose (or other mild symptom) is improving and other symptoms have stopped.

What if your child’s health care provider has assessed your child and cleared the return to school?

If your child was assessed by their health care provider and cleared to return to school, your child may return to school if –

  • The health care provider told you that your child’s sickness is caused by a diagnosis (medical reason) other than COVID-19; and
  • It has been at least a full day since your child started to feel better*; and
  • your child passed questions 3, 4, and 5 of the Ontario COVID-19 school and child care screening tool today.

*Mild symptoms like a runny nose do not have to be completely gone when your child returns to school provided the runny nose (or other mild symptom) is improving and other symptoms have stopped.

What if you do not contact your child’s health care provider and do not have your child tested for COVID-19?

If your child has new or worsening symptoms as outlined above, and you (the parent or guardian) decide not to seek medical advice for your symptomatic child or have them tested for COVID-19, your child must self-isolate for 10 days from symptom onset date.

Your child may return to school after 10 days if –

*Mild symptoms like a runny nose do not have to be completely gone when your child returns to school provided the runny nose (or other mild symptom) is improving and other symptoms have stopped.


Creative Design OfficerReturn to School Protocol for Students with COVID-19 Symptoms