COVID-19 - Get vaccinated and find public health advice for residents and businesses.

Schools, Child Care and Camps During COVID-19

Vaccinating Children and Youth

The COVID-19 vaccine remains the single best protection against COVID-19 and variants

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Screening for COVID-19 and managing symptoms

Daily screening is an effective practice to help prevent COVID-19 infection from entering a school or child care setting.

Public Health continues to recommend that staff, students and visitors complete the COVID-19 school and child care screening each day before going to school or child care. Some licensed child care centres and licensed home child care programs have adapted the screening tool for their own use.

Learn about self-isolation guidance for schools and child care in Niagara.

Face coverings / masks

Per provincial direction, masking is no longer mandated in school or child care settings for students or staff with the following exceptions:

  • After a COVID-19 infection or exposure. Use the self-isolation guidance to find out when wearing a mask may be required after an infection or exposure.
  • After returning home from international travel. Per federal travel requirements, unvaccinated children under the age of 12 who are exempt from quarantine must wear masks when in public spaces (including in schools and child care) for 14 days after arriving back in Canada.

If a staff member, child or visitor received their COVID-19 vaccine in the last 48 hours and are experiencing mild fatigue / tiredness, muscle aches and / or joint pain that only began after vaccination, they should wear a properly fitted mask for the entire time at school / child care while they're experiencing these symptoms.

While no longer generally required, Public Health strongly recommends children age two or older and staff wear masks, unless they have health reasons that make masking unsafe.

The COVID-19 virus remains in high circulation in Niagara and continues to pose a risk in our community. Masking is one of the most reasonable protections we can all take to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and protect our vulnerable community members from severe outcomes.

Masks are not just a personal protection, but also a community one that protects each other. See Public Health Ontario's recent comprehensive review of the scientific evidence on masking in children that showed that:

  • Mask requirements prevent infections in children
  • Masks are well-tolerated by children
  • There is no objective evidence of harms or negative consequences from masking in children
  • Public Health recommendations for children two years of age or older

    For best protection, it's recommended that students wear masks that fit flush to the face without gaps and have at least three layers. Parents / guardians can contact their child's school for this type of mask if they don't already have one.

    It's recommended that masks be worn outdoors when physical distancing cannot be maintained

  • Public Health recommendations for staff and visitors

    Staff and visitors are recommended at a minimum to wear medical masks (surgical / procedural). The non-fit-tested N95 masks provided by the Ministry of Education provide the best protection.

More information on face coverings / masks

Report COVID-19 Cases

School administration, support staff and parents / guardians can report COVID-19 cases to Public Health.

Report positive PCR and rapid antigen tests

COVID-19 Info-Line

Talk to a health professional Monday to Friday

  • By phone at 905-688-8248 or 1-888-505-6074, press 7 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:15 p.m.
  • Chat online in 90 different languages with auto-translate from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

COVID-19 Info-Line wait times
Physicians and primary care providers
For vaccine information, call the Provincial Vaccine Contact Centre at 1-833-943-3900.

Contact

Schools and child care settings participating in cohort dismissals

Niagara Region Public Health continues to recommend the dismissal of cohorts in schools and child care settings where there is a test confirmed COVID-19. Dismissing a class or cohort after an exposure reduces the risk of further spread.

While very disruptive when it happens, Niagara Region Public Health believes its benefits in health have outweighed the disruptions.

Cohort dismissals are not occurring at every school / child care setting in Niagara.

Parents / guardians can continue to report their child's positive PCR or rapid antigen test through Public Health's COVID-19 reporting portal. Reporting through this online tool is the preferred method. However, if you're unable to use this, you may also call our COVID-19 Info-Line to report. Whether using the online tool or info-line, only report positive test results for school aged children.

Public Health doesn't receive cohort dismissal information from every school and child care setting in Niagara. The following information applies to school / child care settings participating in cohort dismissal.

  • If there is a test confirmed COVID-19 infection in a school / child care cohort, who will be dismissed, for how long, and who can continue to attend in-person?

    Individuals in the affected cohorts who will be dismissed from school / child care

    Staff and children that are unvaccinated, partially vaccinated or immune compromised will be dismissed (remain out of school / child care) for a total of five days. For staff who are dismissed, a negative rapid antigen test is required to return to school / child care on day six.

    Individuals in the affected cohorts who may continue to attend school /child care in-person

      • Staff who meet the definition of being fully vaccinated
      • Children that have received two doses of COVID-19 vaccine
      • Staff and children who have tested positive on or after Dec. 20, 2021 and have completed their isolation period

    If you have access to rapid tests and are concerned about your child’s exposure to COVID-19 infection, Public Health recommends (but does not require) testing five days after being around someone who had COVID-19. Testing earlier than that may not be reliable.

  • My child was dismissed from school / child care. Should they stay at home for the length of their dismissal period?

    If dismissed from school / child care, your child should avoid leaving home except for essential reasons, such as vaccine or medical appointments, and avoid visiting any high-risk settings or individuals who are at higher risk of illness. Children should also avoid going to their extracurricular activities for the length of their dismissal period.

    While at home, however, your child does not need to self-isolate from other family members unless the child is symptomatic, develops symptoms during their dismissal period, and / or tests positive. If this happens, see self-isolation guidance.
  • I heard about a positive case in my child's cohort at school / child care but haven't received a letter. What should I do?

    Public Health is committed to notifying parents / guardians of a confirmed positive case as soon as possible and supporting families during these challenging times.

    Letters may be delayed, or not sent out, if:

    • The positive individual was not reported to Public Health OR not reported in a timely manner. See how parents / guardians can confidentially report positive test results for school aged children to Public Health.
    • After Public Health investigation, it was determined the positive individual was not in contact with others during their contagious period, which is when they are most capable of spreading COVID-19 to others
    • There is an increased volume in cases that overwhelm Public Health's capacity

    If you have access to rapid tests and are concerned about your child's exposure to COVID-19 infection, Public Health recommends (but does not require) testing five days after being around someone who had COVID-19. Testing earlier than that may not be reliable.

  • If a child or staff without symptoms tested positive on Day 5 before returning to school / childcare after being part of a cohort dismissal, what do they need to do?

    Children under 12 years of age and individuals who are fully vaccinated

    Isolate for an additional five days and if they develop symptoms of COVID-19, until they are fever free (without the use of fever reducing medication) AND symptoms have been improving for 24 hours (or 48 hours if gastrointestinal symptoms are present).

    Individuals who are immunocompromised, or age 12 and older who are unvaccinated or partially vaccinated

    Isolate for an additional 10 days and if they develop symptoms of COVID-19, until they are fever free (without the use of fever reducing medication) AND symptoms have been improving for 24 hours (or 48 hours if gastrointestinal symptoms are present).

Travel for students and international students

Students returning from international travel

Unvaccinated children under the age of 12 are now exempt from federal quarantine if they travel in the company of someone who qualified for an exemption from quarantine based on vaccination status. Any unvaccinated children exempt from quarantine will need to wear a mask in public settings (including school and childcare) for 14 days after arrival to Canada.

For more information, visit COVID-19 vaccinated travellers entering Canada.

International students

More information for schools

More information for child care centres and licensed home child care programs

Children's camps

Post-secondary institutions

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