Q&A: COVID-19 Protocols

covid 19

What is the Board’s plan for dealing with suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19?

If a student or staff member has COVID-19 symptoms, they are to go to an assessment centre and get tested.  As per the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit (SMDHU), if the test is negative, individuals can return to work/school 24 hours after symptoms subside, as long as they are not self-isolating for other reasons.

Individuals with a confirmed case of COVID-19, can return to work 14 days after their symptoms first appear, as long as symptoms have subsided. No tests or clearance letter is required for return to work or school. 

If a student develops COVID-19 symptoms while in school, they will be immediately separated from others and placed in an isolation room (supervised by a staff member) until picked up by their parent/guardian. We are asking parents to ensure they have plans in place with an emergency contact for a quick student pick-up. Strict protocols will be in place in the isolation room, i.e., wearing of PPE, physical distancing, etc. 

If a staff member becomes ill while they are at school, they are to go home, get tested for COVID-19 and self-isolate pending results. If they are unable to get home safely, they will be directed to wait in the isolation room until such time as a family member can pick them up. They will be required to follow all of the steps laid out for sick students in the isolation room. 

Confirmed Case of COVID-19 

The SMCDSB will track student and staff attendance and alert the SMDHU about large increases in absenteeism due to illness. Confirmed cases of COVID-19 are reported by the testing laboratory to the SMDHU who will help the school community through contact tracing. The board will follow a COVID-19 Case Management Process, which includes a checklist that must be followed when there is a confirmed case of COVID-19.  In addition, the following measures will be taken:

  • Any student or employee who test positive for COVID-19 will self-isolate for 14 days in accordance with SMDHU protocol

  • The SMDHU will contact positive cases directly and provide a letter directly to the other staff/students identified to have a high risk of exposure

  • The Superintendent, Communications Department and the Principal to work with the SMDHU on letters to school or community, as determined by the SMDHU

  • The SMDHU will collaborate with the Supervisor/Principal to obtain contact information for those individuals with a high risk of exposure

  • The SMDHU will follow up with the Health & Safety Officer, if needed

  • Supervisor/Principal to discuss any enhanced cleaning protocols that may need to be performed with the Manager of Custodial Services and the Chief Custodian at the school 

  • These area(s) will be closed until this enhanced cleaning is completed

  • Additional direction will be taken from the SMDHU and is based on Ministry of Education and Ministry of Health guidance in the workplace. 

If my child has to self-isolate or becomes ill, how will they continue with their school work?

Students and staff who exhibit symptoms  will be required to stay at home.  Teachers will work with parents so that students can stay connected to their classroom, receive work and complete assignments during the isolation period/illness.

Our process for dealing with prolonged absences is not changing as a result of COVID-19. For example, if your child had to miss two weeks of school due to a broken leg, they would continue to connect with their teacher and complete classroom work. The same would apply due to absences related to self-isolation or suspected COVID-19 cases.

Students who are away from school for prolonged periods due to COVID-19 related symptoms, or any other illness or injury, cannot attend the SMCDSB virtual school. The virtual school is separate from your child's home school (with a different teacher and classmates). 

Does the self-assessment need to be completed daily? When will parents be provided with a self-assessment checklist?

Yes. Families are asked to complete the daily health assessment before sending their child(ren) to the bus stop or school. 

What if my child doesn’t pass the self assessment because they have a cold or a headache? Do they need to stay home?

Yes. If a student or staff member has COVID-19 symptoms that are new or unexplained, they need to stay home from school and  go to an assessment centre to be tested.  As per the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit (SMDHU), if the test is negative, individuals can return to work/school 24 hours after symptoms subside, as long as they are not self-isolating for other reasons.

What if my child has a pre-existing condition (e.g., chronic headaches, allergies)?

A test is required if parents notice any new or unexplained symptoms (which can be as minor as a runny nose) present in your child. The Health Unit is advising that if your child suffers from a chronic condition such as season allergies, the removal from school and a COVID-19 test is not necessary.


If my child exhibits symptoms and is required to stay home, do siblings also need to stay home?

Any student/staff/visitor who is exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 must have a COVID-19 test and be symptom free for 24 hours before returning to school.

Any household members
 of person experiencing symptoms are to self-monitor for 14 days. Please use the self-monitor fact sheet as a reference.  All family members should continue to use the daily self-assessment to determine whether they should attend school.

This is part of everyone's responsibility to stop the spread and ensure a healthy learning environment for all.