COVID-19 screening guidance for schools and child care revised in Ontario

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In an October 1 conference, Premier Doug Ford discussed additional measures to help with the ongoing COVID-19 crisis and announced that the Ontario government is updating its school and child care screening guidance.

This information will help parents determine when it is appropriate for students, children and their families to get tested for COVID-19. 

The school and child care screening guidance is being updated with two sets of questions about symptoms.

This will further help parents make informed decisions about whether their children should attend school or child care, or whether they should consult a health care provider, or get tested for COVID-19.

The online tool will launch on Friday, October 2 for download and guidance can be found at the COVID-19 Screening Tool for Children in School and Child Care.

“Ensuring that children can attend school with minimal interruption is an important part of their healthy growth and development,” said Dr. David Williams, Chief Medical Officer of Health.

“Based on a review of the current evidence and consulting with pediatric infectious diseases experts, we are updating the list of symptoms in the COVID-19 screening tool for schools and child care to ensure that our children receive the education and care that they need while minimizing the risk of COVID-19 transmission.”

The first set of questions will inquire about symptoms including a fever or cough.

Students and children with any of these symptoms will still be advised to stay home until they are able to consult with a health care provider or when they receive an alternative diagnosis or a negative COVID-19 test.

The second set of questions will inquire about symptoms such as a runny nose or a headache that are commonly associated with other illnesses.

Students and children with only one of these symptoms will be advised to stay home for 24 hours.

They may then return to school or child care if their symptoms are improving.

Students and children 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.

Additionally, based on the latest public health guidance, the symptom list for children in school and child care no longer includes abdominal pain or conjunctivitis (pink eye).

“We are grateful to Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health for contributing significantly to the development of Ontario’s Back-to School Plan,” said Education Minister Stephen Lecce.

“Our focus continues to be on limiting the spread within our schools by listening to and acting upon the best available medical advice, which includes ensuring all layers of prevention are in place to keep kids safe.”

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