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Halton Region Public Health is working closely with local school boards and private schools to implement provincial standards for reopening schools safely during COVID-19. Public Health provides up-to-date guidance and support on the safe reopening and operation of schools to protect students, families, school staff and visitors to schools during the pandemic.

Halton Region School Board plans

School board reopening plans describe how they will protect the health and safety of students, families, school staff and visitors to schools. Plans are informed by the Ministry of Education’s Guide to Reopening Ontario’s Schools (external link) and Halton Region Public Health’s guidance. To find details about your local school board is planning for reopening, please visit their website:

For private schools, refer to the school’s website.

How Halton Region Public Health is supporting schools

Halton Region Public Health:

  • provides recommendations and resources to help school boards and private schools develop policies and procedures to ensure the health and safety of staff, students, parents/guardians and visitors;
  • supports training and educational opportunities for school staff regarding infection prevention and control practices;
  • develops processes and protocols for managing sick students and staff at school;
  • develops guidance around managing a confirmed case of COVID-19 and an outbreak at school;
  • ensures schools have child-friendly resources that support healthy behaviours in the school setting;
  • supports infection prevention and control (IPAC) with schools; and
  • conducts surveillance of student/staff absenteeism specific to COVID-19.

In Halton, we have dedicated many resources towards supporting school reopening. In the coming weeks we will be providing enhanced support to schools and boards in facilitating preventative measures, including screening, testing, tracing and mitigation strategies (through newly hired School Nurses).

Educational materials for parents

Frequently asked questions

Families are encouraged to use the Ontario Government's COVID-19 school screening (external link) each day before going to school. Parents and caregivers can complete the tool on behalf of a student.

Yes, if an individual is experiencing any one symptom of COVID-19 (for example, runny nose or sore throat), they must stay home from school, self-isolate and they should seek medical assessment.

This is a requirement of a class order (PDF file) issued on May 22, 2020 under Section 22 of the Health Protection and Promotion Act, requiring all individuals with symptoms of COVID-19 to self-isolate for a period of 14 days from the day they first showed symptoms.

Due to lower case counts in Halton, we are currently recommending that siblings (and other household contacts) of symptomatic children self-monitor while the symptomatic child is awaiting test results. This means that they can attend school or work as long as they do not have any symptoms. This recommendation may change if daily case counts start increasing in the region.

If someone in a school setting tests positive for COVID-19 and an individual is a close contact, Halton Region Public Health will contact an individual directly with information on how and when to get tested for COVID-19 and further actions to take. Public Health will maintain the confidentiality of the individual who tested positive for COVID-19. Also, Public Health will work closely with school administration to provide appropriate communication to all families.

To maintain individual privacy, school staff or parents/guardians will only be contacted by Halton Region Public Health if their child(ren) are identified as a close contact of a confirmed case, and further information about the individual case or outbreak will not be shared publicly.

An outbreak would be declared in a school once it has been determined that there are two positive cases with an epidemiological link (for example, these children could have become infected with COVID-19 at school either from each other or a common source). Each case will need to be assessed and it would need to be determined that transmission occurred in the school before confirming it as an outbreak since it is possible that children could have been infected outside the school setting.

Once an outbreak in a school is confirmed, Halton Region Public Health would communicate with parents of close contacts to let them know and provide further direction on actions to take which include: staying home, monitoring for symptoms and getting tested when it’s appropriate. Public Health would continue to investigate to identify any other close contacts and will determine if a classroom or the entire school would need to be closed.

To maintain individual privacy, school staff or parents/guardians will only be contacted by Halton Region Public Health if their child(ren) are identified as a close contact of a confirmed case, and further information about the individual case or outbreak will not be shared publicly.

Non-medical masks or face coverings are safe to use, even among children.

In terms of risks, continuous mask use may be associated with facial skin lesions, rashes and acne. In younger age groups, there are potential risks related to language and social development. Also, there is a risk of self-contamination if an individual touches or moves their mask with dirty hands. Therefore, it is important to incorporate hand hygiene with mask use.

Overall, Halton Region Public Health recommends the use of non-medical masks or face coverings as an additional measure to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The following are tips for how to care for your mask:

  • Clearly identify your mask with names or initials, to avoid confusion or accidentally using another person’s mask.
  • It can be helpful to label your mask to indicate top/bottom and front/back.
  • Do not share or swap your mask with others, or touch a mask belonging to someone else.
  • Your mask should be stored a clean place (for example, individually labeled container or sealed bag).
  • A mask should not be worn if it is wet, damp or dirty.
  • Cloth masks should be washed after every day of use and/or before being used again, or if visibly soiled.
  • Wash your cloth mask by putting it directly into the washing machine, using a hot cycle, and then dry thoroughly.
  • Discard disposable masks in a plastic lined garbage bin after use.
  • Families should consider providing an additional mask for children in case a back-up mask is needed during the day and to facilitate every day washing of a cloth mask.

For more information, refer to Use of Non-Medical Masks or Face Coverings in Schools (PDF file) fact sheet.

When masks are not being worn while at school, masks should be stored in a clean bag or container between uses.

The best storage option is a labeled paper bag or envelope as these materials do not retain moisture which could allow bacteria to grow on the mask. Alternatively, use a labeled, cleanable container with a lid or a sealable plastic bag.

If a paper bag or envelope is used, discard at the end of each day. If a reusable container with a lid is used, clean and disinfect it at the end of each day. Lanyards and pockets are not recommended for mask storage.

Learn more

For more information about COVID-19, please visit our COVID-19 (2019 Novel Coronavirus) page, email accesshalton@halton.ca or call 311.

For a summary of COVID-19 cases in publicly funded schools, licensed child care centres and home child care agencies, please visit the Government of Ontario’s COVID-19 cases in schools and child care centres webpage (external link).

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