Province won’t make COVID testing mandatory for students under new guidelines

Province defines school outbreak as two or more cases over 14 days

Under newly released guidelines from Queen’s Park, students feeling unwell won’t be required to get tested for COVID unless they’ve had direct contact with a known case.

Premier Doug Ford and Education Minister Stephen Lecce highlighted some of the guidance offered in this new plan, saying a school outbreak is defined as two or more confirmed cases of COVID-19 among students or staff within 14 days. Once an outbreak is declared, public health officials would then determine whether to partially or fully close the school in question.

According to the new guidelines, the outbreak need not be over to re-open the affected school, and cohorts without any signs of transmission could gradually return to class. Outbreaks would be declared over after at least 14 days of no new cases among students or staff.

Testing will not be mandatory for students. Should a family member test positive for COVID-19, they are not required to inform their child’s school but everyone in the home is strongly urged to stay home and isolate for 14 days.

Should a student display symptoms of COVID-19 or is otherwise feeling unwell over the course of a school day, the principal will ensure the student is picked up safely, making sure they remain in a designated isolation area until a parent or guardian arrives.

“Just as many schools have fire safety and emergency response plans, we have been working hand in hand with the medical experts to develop a plan that will allow schools to quickly and effectively find, isolate and contain a COVID-19 case or outbreak,” said Premier Ford. “With medical experts helping to develop and support our plan, parents, teachers and educators can be confident every measure has been taken to put the health and safety of students and staff first.”

If a student tests positive for COVID-19, their entire cohort will be isolated as a precaution. It is expected teachers will continue to support student learning should isolation due to COVID-19 be required.