Schools, child care centres and COVID-19

What’s on this page?

COVID-19 self-assessment

All staff, students, children, and visitors must self-screen every day before attending school or child care. The questions in the COVID-19 school and child care screening tool (Government of Ontario) can help you decide if your child should or should not go to school or childcare.

If a child has symptoms of COVID-19 (Government of Ontario) they must stay home and self-isolate. Household members may also need to stay home and isolate. Visit Ontario.ca/exposed for information on what to do next.

What to do if you have COVID-19 or have been exposed to COVID-19

If you think you or your child may have been exposed to the virus, follow the steps at ontario.ca/exposed to take care of yourself and to protect others.

If you have additional questions about testing and isolation, you can contact:

Rapid antigen testing

As an added layer of protection, rapid antigen tests are available in elementary and secondary schools.  Rapid antigen tests are also available to the public at participating pharmacies and grocery stores. Rapid tests can be done at home and produce results in a few minutes. A single negative rapid antigen test in a student with COVID-19 symptoms does not mean that they do not have a COVID-19 infection. If two consecutive rapid antigen tests, separated by 24 to 48 hours, are both negative, the symptomatic student is less likely to have COVID-19 and are therefore advised to self-isolate until symptoms are improving for at least 24 hours (or 48 hours if gastrointestinal symptoms).

If your child is experiencing symptoms and does not have access to a rapid antigen test, they should assume they have COVID-19, and must self-isolate. Visit Ontario.ca/exposed to get a recommendation on what to do next and to determine if household members are also required to isolate.

Case and contact management in schools and child care centres

To reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19, the Ministry of Health has provided interim public health guidance on case and contact management, which includes schools and child care settings:

Schools will not be notifying children in classes with a positive case, or absences related to symptoms of COVID-19. It is expected that any dismissals or closures of a school or child care will be based on operational needs determined by the school board, school, or child care setting. At this time, schools are not required to conduct contact tracing within cohorts.

Wearing masks in schools or child care centres

Wearing a mask is an important way to protect yourself and others. Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health recently issued a letter (PDF, 68 KB) to parents and caregivers calling on them to apply the layers of protection that we know work to keep ourselves and others healthy. The letter highlights the combined presence of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), influenza, and COVID-19 circulating within our province and the impact it is having on children and the stress it is placing on the health care system. Parents and caregivers are reminded of the importance of staying up to date with your vaccines, wearing a well-fitted mask in all indoor public settings, monitoring yourself and your children for symptoms and keeping your children home if they are sick.

Please remember to be kind to one another, and to acknowledge that everyone has different comfort levels when it comes to pandemic precautions. See our How to put on, take off and properly wear a mask at school child-friendly video and our Face Coverings (COVID-19) webpage for more information on masks.

Check with your child’s school, as additional policies may be implemented regarding the use of masks in the school setting.

Resources

Public Health has developed various school resources for schools, school boards and parents to help them follow COVID-safe school protocols (Government of Ontario) and support the safe re-opening of child care centers (Government of Ontario).

For more information on schools, childcare centres, and COVID-19, visit the frequently asked questions.

For more detailed information on COVID-19 procedures in childcare centres, visit our Child Care Centres and COVID-19 page.


This item was last modified on November 18, 2022