Managing COVID-19 in a School
The Government of Ontario has provided a recommended process for school boards to follow in the event of a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19 in a school. As per this guidance document, the TDSB takes its lead from Toronto Public Health, who is responsible for determining if an outbreak exists, declaring an outbreak, and providing direction on outbreak control measures to be implemented. It’s important to note that even though an outbreak may be declared in the school, Toronto Public Health will assist in determining which cohort(s) may be sent home or if a partial or full school closure is required based on the scope of the outbreak. Please note, the response will depend on the unique circumstances of each case.
In the interests of privacy, information provided to school communities will not identify the student or staff member that has received a positive COVID-19 test. If Toronto Public Health advises that a class, cohort or a school should be closed for a period of time, parents, students and staff will be notified immediately.
The TDSB will also work with Toronto Public Health to support contact tracing and inform individuals who may have been in contact with the affected person.
Health Screening for COVID-19 Symptoms
The most important thing families can do to help mitigate the transmission of COVID-19, is to screen their children daily for any COVID-19 symptoms and keep them home from school if they are sick or have had close contact with anyone diagnosed with COVID-19.
If staff or students feel unwell or have symptoms of COVID-19, they should not attend school and should go to a primary care provider or assessment centre for testing. Then, once they arrive at school, their self-assessment will be verified before entry is allowed into the school building. Learn more about the verification and screening process.
If someone in the school community tests positive for COVID-19, Toronto Public Health protocols are implemented. The TDSB will work collaboratively with Toronto Public Health to support contact tracing and inform individuals who may have been in contact with the affected person.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Based on the direction from the Ministry of Education:
- All staff members will be provided with the appropriate PPE (medical masks and face shields) to safely interact with each other and with students
- All students will be required to wear a face covering or reusable cloth masks, which will be provided. Reasonable exceptions regarding the requirement to wear masks/face coverings will be made and students will have regular outdoor breaks for relief from mask wearing.
Entering, Moving Through and Exiting School
- Students will conduct a self-assessment for COVID-19 symptoms before coming to school which will be verified before entering the building
- Physical distancing measures will be encouraged and maintained as much as possible
- Floors will be marked with stickers to designate traffic flow and distancing
- Students will stay with their classroom cohort and large gatherings will be avoided, including in common areas
- Schools will determine local protocols including identifying entry/exit doors and pick up/drop off protocols
- Signage about hand washing and proper respiratory etiquette will be prominent in schools/administration centres
- Hand washing time will be built into daily routines, including after washroom use, recess and lunch breaks
- Alcohol-based sanitizers will be available throughout the school and at designated entry and exit points
- When physical distancing is not possible, face masks will be provided and used
Cleaning and Other Additional Measures
- Caretaking staff will perform routine cleaning of general facilities through the day and will conduct enhanced cleaning of high touch surfaces such as light switches, handrails, door handles, etc. twice daily.
- Shared items will be used minimally and will be cleaned between users.
- Mechanical HVAC systems have been checked during the summer months to ensure they are operating as designed and we will increase the frequency of filter changes. In addition, the intake settings will be adjusted to increase the amount of fresh air and reduce recirculation.
- Where possible, windows will be opened to increase natural ventilation.
- Washrooms and elevators will have capacity limits.
- Water fountains are to be used to refill water bottles only.