COVID-19 School Screening
Students, teachers and school staff need to check for symptoms of illness every day before going to school. In consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, the Ontario government has recently updated its COVID-19 school screening guidance
and COVID-19 School Screening Tool
. This additional information will help parents determine when it is most appropriate for students, children and their families to seek a test for COVID-19.
The main changes focus on updates to the province’s symptoms list. The revised screening tool features two sets of questions. The first asks about symptoms such as fever or cough. Students with any of these symptoms will still be advised to stay home until they are able to consult with a health care provider and receive an alternative diagnosis or a negative COVID-19 test.
The second set asks about other symptoms that are commonly associated with other illnesses, such as a runny nose or headache:
• Students with only one of these symptoms will be advised to stay home for 24 hours, after which they can return to school if their symptoms are improving;
• Students with two or more of these symptoms will be advised to stay home until they are able to consult with a health care provider and receive an alternative diagnosis or a negative COVID-19 test.
In addition, the symptom list no longer includes abdominal pain or conjunctivitis (pink eye). The changes apply to students only.
It’s critical that you screen your child(ren) daily and follow the guidance provided in the online tool to determine whether your child(ren) should attend school.
Take the COVID-19 school screening here
. Please note, this screening is not a diagnostic tool. If you have medical questions, consult a health care provider or Hamilton Public Health Services
. Listen to the advice of Public Health first, as their advice overrules the advice in this screening.
Attestation Form to Return to School
In consultation with HPHS, the HWCDSB has also developed an attestation form for students who have been away from school. Families whose child was absent from school due to a failed Ontario COVID-19 school screening or illness will be required to complete the form declaring that it is safe for your child to return to child care or school (elementary and secondary).
Please download the form here
Public Health Services
The HWCDSB has been working with Hamilton Public Health Services (PHS) to develop procedures and protocols, based on the most recent data and evidence, to monitor and respond to reports of COVID-19 symptoms.
PHS Protocol for Children with COVID-19 symptoms:
Child has COVID-19 symptoms while at school
Child has COVID-19 symptoms while at home
Maintaining public health measures such as staying home when you are sick, physical distancing, hand washing and mask wearing will be very important to reduce the likelihood of infection, contain outbreaks and protect those who are most vulnerable. Everyone has a part to play to help reduce the spread of COVID-19, including parents, school boards, and public health.
For information on COVID-19 testing, status of COVID-19 cases, how to protect yourself and others, guidance for workplaces and public places, school reopening resources for parents, and other COVID-19 related health information, please visit the Hamilton Public Health Services website
Provincial Outbreak Protocol
On August 26th, the provincial government released an Operational Guidance: COVID-19 Management in Schools
which outlines protocols for school boards in the event of a COVID-19 outbreak. The plan provides guidance on prevention, record-keeping/contact tracing, the importance of home screening, the role of local public health, infection control measures, and appropriate steps to take should a student or staff member test positive for COVID-19.
In addition to the provincial guidance, the HWCDSB is working with Hamilton Public Health Services (PHS) to manage and contain suspected and confirmed cases of COVID-19. Details of the board’s system action plan for suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19 are outlined in our Nurturing Hope: Parent Guide on the Reopening of HWCDSB Schools
During the pandemic, the HWCDSB has made every effort to respond in a timely and effective way to the numerous and complex challenging issues that have arisen. The province’s COVID-19 Management Plan for school boards
is an added resource to assist the HWCDSB in our commitment to make our schools as safe as possible.
Reporting confirmed cases of COVID-19: COVID-19 Advisory Website
Information on confirmed cases of COVID-19 that involve a student or a staff member in a school setting will be posted in the COVID-19 advisory section
on the HWCDSB website. In the interests of privacy, information will not identify the student or staff member that has received a positive COVID-19 test.
If Hamilton Public Health advises that a class, cohort or school should be closed for a period of time, parents, students and staff will be notified immediately. Notice of any closures of classes, cohorts or schools will be posted on school and HWCDSB COVID-19 advisory sections.
COVID-19 Response Framework: Keeping Ontario Safe and Open
In consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health and other health experts, the Ontario government has developed the Keeping Ontario Safe and Open Framework
. It ensures that public health measures are targeted, incremental and responsive to help limit the spread of COVID-19, while keeping schools and businesses open, maintaining health system capacity and protecting vulnerable people, including those in long-term care.
The framework takes a gradual approach that includes introducing preventative measures earlier to help avoid broader closures and allow for additional public health and workplace safety measures to be introduced or removed incrementally. It categorizes public health unit regions into five levels: Green-Prevent, Yellow-Protect, Orange-Restrict, Red-Control, and Lockdown being a measure of last and urgent resort. Each level outlines the types of public health and workplace safety measures for businesses and organizations. These include targeted measures for specific sectors, schools, institutions and other settings.