As a resource for families - to help clarify individual responsibility and procedures for COVID-19 screening, testing, reporting and management - we have summarized the public health guidance provided by the Ministry of Education.
We hope this will assist you in determining what you should do if you, or members of your household, are sick or test positive for COVID-19.
Everyone is reminded that students must complete and pass the daily COVID-19 Self-assessment Tool before going to school.
Exposure to a Positive or Presumed COVID-19 Case
All cases (i.e. people who test positive on PCR, rapid molecular, or rapid antigen test OR who are presumed positive) should notify high-risk contacts of their exposure.
Individuals only exposed at school - with all public health measures in place - are not generally considered high-risk contacts. More information regarding who is considered a high-risk contact is outlined in the COVID-19 Integrated Testing & Case, Contact and Outbreak Management Interim Guidance: Omicron Surge.
Where a child, student, or staff member has been advised from a case that they may have been exposed to a positive case of COVID-19 at school, they should monitor for symptoms and seek testing if eligible/available, in alignment with COVID-19 Integrated Testing & Case, Contact and Outbreak Management Interim Guidance: Omicron Surge. If the contact does not have symptoms, has not been advised to isolate due to an exposure to a case/symptomatic individual in the community, and continues to pass the COVID-19 School and Child Care Screening, they may continue to attend school or child care.
The use of take-home PCR self-collection kits will only be used in limited circumstances. These kits are to be provided only to symptomatic elementary/secondary students and education staff who become symptomatic while at school that would require PCR testing, as listed below.
PCR tests or RATs may be used when a child/student or staff member is exhibiting the following symptoms:
- Fever and/or chills; OR
- Cough; OR
- Shortness of breath; OR
- Decrease or loss of taste or smell; OR
- Two or more of:
- Runny nose/nasal congestion
- Extreme fatigue
- Sore throat
- Muscle aches/joint pain
- Gastrointestinal symptoms (i.e. vomiting or diarrhea)
PCR self-collection kits will not be provided to individuals experiencing single symptoms that only require isolation until the symptom is improving for 24-48 hours (e.g., runny nose), or to entire cohorts/school populations.
While awaiting the results of a COVID-19 test, or if testing is not available:
(Where an individual is experiencing symptom(s) listed above and does not have access to a PCR test or RAT the individual is presumed to have COVID-19 based on their symptoms and should isolate as per the below criteria for those who test positive on a RAT or PCR test. The number of Omicron cases is rising rapidly in Ontario such that individuals with symptoms indicative of COVID-19 can be presumed to be infected with COVID-19.)
The individual and their household members, regardless of vaccination status, must remain at home and isolate as per the instructions below:
All household members of the symptomatic individual, regardless of vaccination status, should isolate while the symptomatic individual is isolating - due to the high rate of transmission that may occur within households.
If they develop symptoms, they should follow isolation directions for symptomatic individuals and seek testing if eligible for testing.
Where an individual has only one of the following symptoms, or a different symptom (e.g., pink eye):
Runny nose/nasal congestion
Muscle aches/joint pain
Gastrointestinal symptoms (i.e. vomiting or diarrhea)
The individual should isolate until symptoms are improving for at least 24 hours (or 48 hours if gastrointestinal symptoms are present), and household members are not required to isolate.
Positive COVID-19 Test
Individuals who test positive on a COVID-19 test (PCR, rapid molecular, or rapid antigen) should isolate immediately.
If the individual is 12 years of age or older AND either partially vaccinated, or unvaccinated, they must isolate for 10 days from the onset of symptoms, or from the date of their test (whichever came sooner).
If the individual is immune compromised (regardless of age and vaccination status) they must isolate for 10 days from the onset of symptoms, or from the date of their test (whichever came sooner).
If the individual is 12 years of age or older AND fully vaccinated they must isolate for at least 5 days from symptom onset AND until their symptoms have been improving for 24 hours (or 48 hours if gastrointestinal symptoms are present), whichever is longer in duration.
If the individual is 11 years of age or younger (regardless of their vaccination status), they must isolate for at least 5 days from symptom onset AND until their symptoms have been improving for 24 hours (or 48 hours if gastrointestinal symptoms are present), whichever is longer in duration.
All household members of an individual who tests positive, regardless of vaccination status, should isolate while the symptomatic individual is isolating. If they develop symptoms, they should follow isolation directions for symptomatic individuals, and seek testing if eligible/available.
A positive RAT is highly indicative that the individual has COVID-19. A positive RAT does NOT need to be confirmed with a PCR test.
Positive RATs do NOT need to be reported to the public health unit, school or child care.
Note: There is no requirement for parent(s)/guardian(s) to report their child's PCR/RAT results to the school or child care as part of absence reporting.
Negative COVID-19 Test
Individuals who test negative on a PCR test must stay home until their symptom(s) have been improving for 24 hours (48 hours if gastrointestinal symptoms are present).
If two consecutive RATs, separated by 24-48 hours, are both negative, the symptomatic individual is less likely to have COVID-19 infection, and the individual should isolate until symptoms are improving for at least 24 hours (or 48 hours if gastrointestinal symptoms are present). The household members of the symptomatic individual with two negative tests may also discontinue isolation if there are two consecutive negative RAT results, separated by 24-48 hours.