Daily screening is an effective practice to help prevent COVID-19 infection from entering a school or child care setting.
Public Health continues to recommend that staff, students and visitors complete the COVID-19 school and child care screening each day before going to school or child care. Some licensed child care centres and licensed home child care programs have adapted the screening tool for their own use.
Learn about self-isolation guidance for schools and child care in Niagara.
Per provincial direction, masking is no longer mandated in school or child care settings for students or staff with the following exceptions:
If a staff member, child or visitor received their COVID-19 vaccine in the last 48 hours and are experiencing mild fatigue / tiredness, muscle aches and / or joint pain that only began after vaccination, they should wear a properly fitted mask for the entire time at school / child care while they're experiencing these symptoms.
While no longer generally required, Public Health strongly recommends children age two or older and staff wear masks, unless they have health reasons that make masking unsafe.
The COVID-19 virus remains in high circulation in Niagara and continues to pose a risk in our community. Masking is one of the most reasonable protections we can all take to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and protect our vulnerable community members from severe outcomes.
Masks are not just a personal protection, but also a community one that protects each other. See Public Health Ontario's recent comprehensive review of the scientific evidence on masking in children that showed that:
For best protection, it's recommended that students wear masks that fit flush to the face without gaps and have at least three layers. Parents / guardians can contact their child's school for this type of mask if they don't already have one.
It's recommended that masks be worn outdoors when physical distancing cannot be maintained
Staff and visitors are recommended at a minimum to wear medical masks (surgical / procedural). The non-fit-tested N95 masks provided by the Ministry of Education provide the best protection.
School administration, support staff and parents / guardians can report COVID-19 cases to Public Health.
Talk to a health professional Monday to Friday
Niagara Region Public Health continues to recommend the dismissal of cohorts in schools and child care settings where there is a test confirmed COVID-19. Dismissing a class or cohort after an exposure reduces the risk of further spread.
While very disruptive when it happens, Niagara Region Public Health believes its benefits in health have outweighed the disruptions.
Cohort dismissals are not occurring at every school / child care setting in Niagara.
Parents / guardians can continue to report their child's positive PCR or rapid antigen test through Public Health's COVID-19 reporting portal. Reporting through this online tool is the preferred method. However, if you're unable to use this, you may also call our COVID-19 Info-Line to report. Whether using the online tool or info-line, only report positive test results for school aged children.
Public Health doesn't receive cohort dismissal information from every school and child care setting in Niagara. The following information applies to school / child care settings participating in cohort dismissal.
Individuals in the affected cohorts who will be dismissed from school / child care
Staff and children that are unvaccinated, partially vaccinated or immune compromised will be dismissed (remain out of school / child care) for a total of five days. For staff who are dismissed, a negative rapid antigen test is required to return to school / child care on day six.
Individuals in the affected cohorts who may continue to attend school /child care in-person
If you have access to rapid tests and are concerned about your child’s exposure to COVID-19 infection, Public Health recommends (but does not require) testing five days after being around someone who had COVID-19. Testing earlier than that may not be reliable.
If dismissed from school / child care, your child should avoid leaving home except for essential reasons, such as vaccine or medical appointments, and avoid visiting any high-risk settings or individuals who are at higher risk of illness. Children should also avoid going to their extracurricular activities for the length of their dismissal period.While at home, however, your child does not need to self-isolate from other family members unless the child is symptomatic, develops symptoms during their dismissal period, and / or tests positive. If this happens, see self-isolation guidance.
Public Health is committed to notifying parents / guardians of a confirmed positive case as soon as possible and supporting families during these challenging times.
Letters may be delayed, or not sent out, if:
If you have access to rapid tests and are concerned about your child's exposure to COVID-19 infection, Public Health recommends (but does not require) testing five days after being around someone who had COVID-19. Testing earlier than that may not be reliable.
Children under 12 years of age and individuals who are fully vaccinated
Isolate for an additional five days and if they develop symptoms of COVID-19, until they are fever free (without the use of fever reducing medication) AND symptoms have been improving for 24 hours (or 48 hours if gastrointestinal symptoms are present).
Individuals who are immunocompromised, or age 12 and older who are unvaccinated or partially vaccinated
Isolate for an additional 10 days and if they develop symptoms of COVID-19, until they are fever free (without the use of fever reducing medication) AND symptoms have been improving for 24 hours (or 48 hours if gastrointestinal symptoms are present).
Unvaccinated children under the age of 12 are now exempt from federal quarantine if they travel in the company of someone who qualified for an exemption from quarantine based on vaccination status. Any unvaccinated children exempt from quarantine will need to wear a mask in public settings (including school and childcare) for 14 days after arrival to Canada.
For more information, visit COVID-19 vaccinated travellers entering Canada.
Learn about cleaning and disinfection standards and protocols.
For Niagara-specific transportation information and guidelines, visit Niagara Student Transportation Services or Francobus and your child's school board website. For updated information from the province on transportation, visit Guide to reopening Ontario's schools - transportation.
If a child is shows any symptoms of illness, they should not take public transportation or share transportation, such as carpooling.
Child care centres and licensed home child care programs are open with enhanced health and safety measures in place.
See EarlyON Child and Family Centres for the status of EarlyON Child and Family Centres during the pandemic.
All child care centres and licensed home child care programs, before and after school programs, EarlyON Child and Family Centres, and First Nation Child and Family Programs must:
All staff in child care centres and licensed home child care programs are to be trained and adhere to these enhanced health and safety requirements.
Review our Child Care Manual (Fifth Edition) for requirements that must be met in child care centres and licensed home child care programs to ensure the individuals who use them stay safe and healthy.