Protocols for Managing COVID-19 in Schools
WCDSB COVID-19 Management Protocol: Frequently asked Questions (FAQ)
This document provides a summary of key information contained in the Government of Ontario COVID-19 guidance documents linked above, as well as other important Public Health and school management information.
An expanded version of this document – including information about curriculum, teaching and learning – is available via the school board’s current Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page.
Roles & Responsibilities
Q: What is the role of Region of Waterloo Public Health (ROWPH) in managing a COVID-19 outbreak in a WCDSB school?
A: The role of Region of Waterloo Public Health (ROWPH) in managing a COVID-19 outbreak in a WCDSB school is to:
- Determine if an outbreak exists and declare an outbreak.
- Provide guidance and recommendations to the school on outbreak control measures in conjunction with advice provided by the Ministry of Education and Ministry of Health.
- Provide recommendations on cohort(s) isolation, and the potential need for full or partial school dismissal based on the scope of the outbreak.
- Make recommendations on who to test, in alignment with the province’s broader testing strategy; where recommended, facilitate a coordinated approach to testing, in collaboration with Ontario Health, including provision of an investigation or outbreak number.
- Issue orders by the medical officer of health or their designate under the Health Protection & Promotion Act (HPPA), if necessary.
- Declare the outbreak over, based on:
- at least 14 days from the last outbreak associated case (including in a student, staff, essential visitor, or anyone else in the school during the outbreak).
- no further symptomatic individuals with tests pending.
NOTE: An outbreak in a school is defined as two or more lab-confirmed COVID-19 cases in students and/or staff in a school with an epidemiological link, within a 14-day period, where at least one case could have reasonably acquired their infection in the school (including transportation and before or after school care).
The outbreak does not necessarily need to be over to re-open the school. Cohorts without evidence of transmission can be gradually brought back to school as additional information and test results become available.
Q: What is the role of the Waterloo Catholic District School Board (WCDSB) in managing a COVID-19 outbreak in a WCDSB school?
A: The role of the Waterloo Catholic District School Board in managing a COVID-19 outbreak in a WCDSB school is to:
- Report a communicable disease to (ROWPH) as per Section 28 of the Health Protection & Promotion Act (HPPA).
- Maintain a COVID-19 Advisory section on the school board website and post information if there is a confirmed case of COVID-19 that involves a student or a staff member in a school setting (ensuring the protection of personal privacy at all times – posted information will not identify the student or staff member that has received a positive COVID-19 test).
- Maintain accurate records of staff and students’ attendance, for all common school locations attended by staff and students (e.g. school transportation, in-person attendance or work at a physical school location, before/after school programs located at a school, or other facilities shared with the school) for the last 30 days, as well as up to date contact information for staff and students. This information should be available to be accessed and shared with Region of Waterloo Public Health in a timely manner (within 24 hours) for investigations and communications. This includes:
- Facilitating access for ROWPH to staff lists for staff not directly employed by the school board (e.g., transportation staff, before/after school program staff).
- Keeping a log of all visitors (e.g., essential volunteers, contractors, parents/guardians, etc.) who enter the school, location(s) visited and dates/times of visit to facilitate contact follow-up if needed.
- In collaboration with ROWPH, communicate proactively with the school community about COVID-19 prevention measures and about how ill individuals, cases, and outbreaks will be handled.
- Provide training to school staff with respect to outbreak prevention and control measures, including infection prevention and control (IPAC) measures and the use of personal protective equipment (PPE).
Students in Grades 1 to 12 must wear masks or face coverings, unless an approved exemption form has been received:
- in schools, including in hallways and during classes
- on school transportation
- outdoors, where physical distance cannot be maintained
Students in kindergarten are also required to wear non-medical or cloth masks in indoor spaces, including school transportation.
Mandatory Self-Screening of Students & Staff
>> Students and staff need to check for symptoms of illness every day before going to school. You can screen your child or yourself by taking the COVID-19 school and childcare screening
Enhanced On-site Screening
>> Schools will conduct daily on-site confirmation of self-screening for secondary students, staff, and visitors – either before entering the school, or at the start of the school day.
Secondary Students, Teachers & Staff
- All secondary students must confirm their COVID-19 self-screening result daily.
- All school staff (elementary & secondary) must confirm their COVID-19 self-screening result daily.
New Isolation Requirements
>> Staff, students, and children attending childcare with any new or worsening symptom of COVID-19, as indicated in the school and childcare screening tool – even those with only one symptom – must stay home until
- They receive a negative COVID-19 test result
- They receive an alternative diagnosis by a health care professional, or
- It has been 10 days since their symptom onset, and they are feeling better.
>> All asymptomatic household contacts of symptomatic individuals are required to quarantine until the symptomatic household member:
- receives a negative COVID-19 test result, or
- receives an alternative diagnosis by a health care professional
>> If the symptomatic individual tests positive — or is not tested — and does not receive an alternative diagnosis from a health care professional, the symptomatic individual must isolate (including from household members) for 10 days from symptom onset, and all household contacts must isolate until 14 days from their last contact with the symptomatic individual.
Important Region of Waterloo Public Health Information