New changes for screening and protocol over COVID-19 cases in schools

The following letter was sent by Peel District School Board. Letters may be edited for grammar and clarity.

The health and safety of students, staff and families continues to be our top priority. The Peel District School Board continues to work with the Government of Ontario and Peel Public Health to ensure enhanced health and safety measures are in place to help keep our schools safe. To help further reduce the spread of COVID-19 in our school communities, Peel Public Health has issued a letter with important changes to COVID-19 screening and changes to how positive cases in schools will be handled:

This letter describes important changes to COVID- 19 screening and how positive cases in your school will be handled. 1) Immediate dismissal if there’s a positive COVID-19 case in a class or cohort (e.g. bus, before and after school program, extra-curricular activity).

If there is a confirmed positive COVID-19 case in a class or cohort, the students and the teacher in the class must go home immediately. Please have a plan for your child to be picked up during the school day in these situations. Students and staff in the class or cohort must selfisolate at home while Peel Public Health investigates the case. Other students (including siblings of the isolated cohort) and staff may continue to attend school if they do not have symptoms.

If our investigation reveals that testing is needed, we will provide you with further information on testing and when you can safely return to school. If students or staff develop any symptoms, testing is strongly recommended. If the investigation reveals low risk of spread, you will be informed when the class or cohort may return to school. 2) Use the newly updated COVID-19 School and Child Care Screening tool before going to school every day. The online screening tool has two sets of new or worsening symptoms not related to other known causes or conditions to guide COVID-19 testing.

Students with any one symptom of fever, cough, shortness of breath and loss of taste or smell should be tested for COVID- 19. As well, any one symptom of sore throat, stuffy or runny nose, headache, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue or muscle aches must stay at home for at least 24 hours from when the symptoms started. If the symptom is improving, they may return when they feel well enough. If the student develops two of these symptoms, or one symptom persists (e.g. stays the same) or worsens, they should be tested for COVID- 19. If you’re unsure if you should be tested for COVID- 19, speak to your health care provider.

If your health care provider recommends testing and the student does not get tested, the student must self-isolate for ten days at home from the start of their symptoms. Students with symptoms who are tested for COVID- 19 and their household members must isolate at home while waiting for the test result. If the test is negative, students and staff may return to school if all of the following apply: · they do not have a fever (without using medication) · it has been at least 24 hours since their symptoms started improving · they were not in close contact with someone who currently has COVID- 19

For information on where to book a testing appointment in Peel region, visit: navirus/testing/#a ssess 3) Stay home if someone in your home is sick. Everyone in your household must stay home if anyone in your house has any COVID-19 symptoms where testing is recommended by the COVID-19 screening tool or a health care provider. Everyone must stay home until the sick person has gotten a negative test result. Doing your part to check for symptoms every day before going to school and staying at home if you or your household member has COVID-19 symptoms are essential steps to keep schools safe.

These measures act as an extra line of defense that works with Peel District School Board’s already strong controls to reduce the risk of spread inside your school. We recognize these steps may be very disruptive to you and your family. We can stop the spread of COVID- 19, but only if we all work together.

Lawrence C. Loh, MD, MPH, FCFP, FRCPC, FACPM Medical Officer of Health Region of Peel – Public Health

About the author

Asia Metro Editor

Surjit Singh Flora
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