COVID-19 - As of Nov. 16, Niagara is in the 'Orange-Restrict' level. Get updates on COVID-19 and learn about service disruptions.

Schools During COVID-19

COVID-19 School / Child Care Screening Tool

Public Health recommends active screening every day before entering school or child care

Ontario government screening tool

School Cases and Outbreaks

All four school boards in Niagara provide information on confirmed cases and school closure status. Learn what happens if a COVID-19 case is confirmed at your child’s school.

COVID-19 Info-Line

Public health professionals are available to answer your COVID-19 related questions.

We also have a dedicated line for Niagara school staff for COVID-19 and school related questions, support on health promotion needs, and for consultation on our teaching tools and lesson plans.

Call the Info-Line at 905-688-8248 or toll-free at 1-888-505-6074, press 7, then:

  • Press 2 if you're a parent or guardian
  • Press 4 if you're an educator, principal, school board representative, or other school or child care staff member
  • Or chat online in 90 different languages with auto-translate
  • Or email Healthy Schools

Prevention and Protection

Learn how you can prevent the spread of COVID-19 and find out what to do when a child has COVID-19 symptoms. For questions, visit our frequently asked questions about COVID-19 and school and child care.

To learn about prevention and protection measures specific to your child's school, visit the school board's website:

  • Screening for COVID-19

    Niagara Region Public Health recommends active screening every day before entering the school, whether you're a student, parent / guardian, school staff member or visitor.

    If anyone fails the screening questions, or refuses to answer, they should NOT enter the building. They should return home to self-isolate.

    Adults experiencing even mild symptoms of COVID-19 should always contact their health care provider for an assessment or contact the Niagara Health COVID-19 Assessment Centre to book a testing appointment. The next steps for children depend on what kind of symptoms they have. Review symptoms in children and find out what steps you should take depending on the symptom.

    Schools are recommended to place screening posters at all entrances to make sure staff, students and visitors don't enter if they have COVID-19 signs or symptoms.

  • Face coverings

    Guidance on face coverings in schools comes from the Ministry of Education.

    Students

    Students in Grades 4 to 12 are required to wear non-medical or cloth face coverings in school, including in hallways and during classes. Outdoor times like recess can be used as opportunities to provide students with breaks from wearing face coverings within their small groups.

    Students in Kindergarten to Grade 3 will be encouraged, but not required, to wear face coverings in indoor spaces.

    Students are encouraged to practise wearing face coverings and learn what type of face covering is most comfortable for them. Students may wear their own non-medical face covering, and non-medical face coverings can be made available for students.

    Teachers and staff

    Medical masks and eye protection (such as face shield) will be provided for all teachers and other staff of school boards. All school-based staff will be required to wear masks, with reasonable exceptions for medical conditions.

    School-based staff who are regularly in close contact with students will be provided with all appropriate personal protective equipment.

    The Ontario government will provide personal protective equipment and cleaning products to school boards and will work closely to ensure appropriate supply and delivery.

    Where necessary, such as in leading classes with students who are deaf or hard of hearing, masks with clear sections may be appropriate.

    How to properly use a face covering

    A face shield is not a replacement for a face covering / mask. Face shields are intended to be worn in addition to a face covering / mask. A face covering / mask creates a complete or near-complete barrier on the sides of the wearer's face. A face shield is open on the sides, which allows some small particles and aerosols to enter.

    To learn more about face coverings and how to properly wear, fit, remove and clean your non-medical face covering visit:

  • Cleaning and disinfecting

    Cleaning products

    Products that provide both cleaning and disinfection action are preferable due to ease of use. For example, hydrogen peroxide products. Only use cleaning and disinfectant products that have a Drug Identification Number (DIN). Check the expiry date of the agents before use. These should be used according to the manufacturer's instructions.

    Cleaning program

    A program for cleaning and disinfecting schools should be developed, including reviews of:

    • Existing practices to determine where enhancements might be made, including frequency and timing of cleaning and disinfection, areas to clean and / or disinfect, choice of cleaning products, child safety, staffing, signage, and personal protective equipment  for cleaning staff
    • Inventory to determine items to be stored, moved or removed altogether to reduce handling or the challenges associated with cleaning them. For example, porous or soft items such as stuffed toys, area rugs and fabric upholstered seating.

    High touch surfaces

    Cleaning plus disinfection at least twice daily is suggested at a minimum. However, more frequent cleaning and disinfection may be necessary, depending on the frequency of use and extent of soilage.

    Examples of high touch surfaces include washrooms (toilet fixtures, faucets), eating areas (tables, sinks, countertops), doorknobs, light switches, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, touch screens, push buttons, handrails, computers, photocopiers and sports equipment.

    Outdoor surfaces

    Routine cleaning of surfaces on playgrounds, including high touch surfaces made of plastic or metal requires soap and water, but not disinfectant. Cleaning of wooden surfaces isn't recommended.

    Shared objects

    Use of shared objects, such as gym or physical education equipment, art supplies, toys and games, should be limited when possible, or the objects should be cleaned between each use.

    Where an individual is suspected of having COVID-19 at school:

    • Establish a protocol for identification and communication of suspected / confirmed cases to administration and relevant staff to determine contaminated areas and carry out cleaning and disinfection, including timing, return to use, methods, personal protective equipment and waste disposal
    • Identify areas that may need cleaning plus disinfection (items used by the individual and all surfaces within two metres of the ill person) versus cleaning alone (such as a hallway or room where the individual has passed through)
    • Use disposable cleaning equipment, such as disposable wipes, where possible
    • Remove all items that cannot be cleaned (paper, books, etc.) and store them in a sealed container for a minimum of seven days

    For more information, call the Info-Line at 905-688-8248 press 7, then press 3 to speak with a duty officer or toll-free at 1-888-505-6074.

  • Transportation

    For Niagara specific back-to-school transportation information and guidelines, visit Niagara Student Transportation Services and your child’s school board website.

    When possible, choose walking and cycling to school as often as possible. Active transportation and private transportation by parents and caregivers will ease pressure on bussing demands. Walking and cycling to school can give your child many benefits such as increased readiness to learn, decreased levels of stress and increased levels of happiness on the journey to school.

    If you need to drive, consider a safe drop-off location away from the school and let your child walk the last five minutes. This will allow them to enjoy the benefits of physical activity and help you avoid congestion around your school.

    As physical distancing may not always be possible, students are encouraged to use face coverings on buses. Confirm details about requirements for face covering on busses through Niagara Student Transportation Services.

    Niagara Student Transportation Services and your school boards are considering the following measures as required by the Ministry of Education:

    • Students should be assigned seats and a record of the seating plan should be kept to help with contact tracing in case a student or driver contracts COVID-19. Students who live in the same household or are in the same classroom cohort should be seated together.
    • Medical masks and eye protection, such as face shields will be provided for school bus drivers, school bus monitors and student aides
    • Frequently touched surfaces, such as handrails and seatbacks should be disinfected at least twice daily
    • Health and safety measures should be clearly communicated to parents and guardians of students to make sure they're comfortable with the adapted transportation system and receive their support in having students understand and follow guidelines

    Municipalities are working on measures to support your child's journey to school, such as face coverings for crossing guards. For details, visit your municipality’s website.

Resources

Parents

Parenting is hard and can be even more stressful during the COVID-19 pandemic. It's important to focus on what is within our control and lean into the supports we have available. Visit Niagara Parents for more information.

For more resources, services and support during the pandemic available to Niagara, see community and social services during COVID-19.

Students

For student resources, visit:

International students

All travellers arriving from outside Canada:

  • Require a mandatory 14-day self-isolation (or quarantine period)
  • Are required, at point of entry, to provide their contact information and where they're staying

Niagara Region Public Health doesn't have a direct role enforcing quarantine orders, but can provide support and information as needed.

Get more information for travellers without symptoms of COVID-19 returning to Canada. For questions or concerns about the emergency orders, email phac.emergencyorder-decretdurgencecovid19.aspc@canada.ca.

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