A child with the sniffles is enough now to require a child in Toronto and Peel to be kept at home from school and seek a COVID-19 test.
The new policy goes against provincial guidance that said children with runny noses or headaches could return to school when symptoms improved.
These new rules begin Dec. 7 and require parents to keep home any child if they have symptoms including sore throat, nausea, runny nose and headache, and they must also keep home any siblings that live with them, even they have no symptoms.
Not only that, parents must arrange for a doctor’s appointment or COVID-19 testing for the symptomatic child. Caregivers must also stay home if they show any symptoms consistent with the virus.
The new rules state children who do not get a COVID-19 test once home with symptoms must stay home for at least 10 days before returning to school.
This is a major change from previous advice from Toronto and Peel Public Health, as well as the province, that said children with one symptom including sore throat, nausea, runny nose and headache could stay home for at least 24 hours and return to school once that symptom improved, without getting a COVID-19 test.
Other symptoms, such as fever above 37.8C, loss of taste or smell, cough or difficulty breathing always required immediate isolation at home and COVID-19 testing, even under the earlier guidance.
Toronto Public Health explains the change is partly due to recent asymptomatic COVID-19 testing and other surveillance at schools, including an elementary school were 26 cases were discovered.
In Peel, officials say they have been detecting case positivity rates among small kids of 10 per cent or more.
“This monitoring has included the new COVID-19 testing pilot of asymptomatic individuals in schools. Taken together, this has confirmed that the enhancements made to the school screening tool will support the earlier identification of COVID-19 cases in school,” Toronto Public Health staff said Friday.
“The updated school screening tool will provide a further layer of protection to better prevent potential virus spread. This is especially important given that Toronto is currently in lockdown under the Provincial Grey Zone.”
Also on Friday, Ontario health officials said three regions will move into new COVID-19 levels.
As of Monday, Dec. 7, Thunder Bay District Health Unit and Middlesex-London District Health Unit will move into orange-restrict. Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit will shift to yellow. Simcoe Muskoka will remain in the orange-category.