Tips for preventing infections at school, including Covid-19:
Parents - please help prevent viral infections by role modelling personal preventive measures and by reviewing these prevention tips with your child regularly.
What happens if there is a positive COVID-19 test in a School?
The Northwestern Health Unit will contact the positive case and gather details about their contacts. NWHU will direct the positive case to self-isolate and not return to school until they are no longer able to spread the virus (i.e. cleared by the NWHU to return). If school-level contact tracing is required, the Northwestern Health Unit will contact the school principal for additional details about contacts and to advise the school on enhanced cleaning measures. The NWHU will connect with everyone identified as a contact and will provide each with directions. Contacts of the case (as determined by NWHU from the information gathered) will be asked to self-monitor or self-isolate, depending on a risk assessment. If students or staff are excluded from school, they will be given a date or conditions on which it is safe to return by NWHU. More information for parents, including Q and A, can be found on our website.
Schools and Masks
Students in Grades 4 to 12 will be required to wear non-medical or cloth masks indoors in school, including in hallways and during classes. Outdoor times like recess can be used as opportunities to provide students with breaks from wearing masks within their cohorts. Students in Kindergarten to Grade 3 will be encouraged but not required to wear masks in indoor spaces. Students may wear their own non-medical masks, and non-medical masks will also be made available for students. Reasonable exceptions on the requirement to wear masks will apply. Have more questions about masks? Visit our website for mask information.
How should my child store their mask when not wearing it?
Cloth masks can be re-used throughout the day if they aren’t dirty, damp or damaged. With clean hands, remove the mask from your face and fold it in half so that the outer surface is inwards (so that the contaminated outer surface is not contacting anything during storage) and place it in a clean, sealable bag until ready to use it again the same day. Clean your hands after taking off. Note that cloth masks are considered contaminated after a day’s use, even if not damp or dirty and need to be washed before reuse.
A disposable mask can be re-used, so long as it is not dirty, damaged or damp and has been stored between uses as described above. At the end of a full day’s wear, however, or if the disposable mask has become dirty, damaged or damp, it is best to throw out the mask. After breaks such as mealtimes, you can reuse a disposable mask if it is still appearing clean, dry, undamaged and you have stored it appropriately between uses. You can temporarily store disposable masks by using the same method as cloth masks.
Healthy School Lunches!
You may have concerns about return to school and how you can support your child during this time. Providing healthy food to give them the energy they need to focus, be active and do their best in the classroom is still important. With extra precautions this year, it is important to talk to your child(ren) about not sharing any food, send a reusable water bottle as water bottle filling stations will be available but water fountains won’t be accessible and continuing to provide healthy lunch options. Visit our website for more information about healthy lunches.
NWHU Services in Schools
NWHU will work together with schools to determine the best approach in ensuring students have access to clinical services. Essential programs like immunizations and dental health will still be available, but may be provided in a different location or in a modified way to keep everyone safe and healthy. We will keep parents informed as we make individual plans with each school on how services will be offered this year.
Walk or wheel to School this year!
Supporting Mental Health and Wellness during the Return to School
Going back to school after a summer break can be an adjustment, even under normal circumstances. This year brings additional challenges and stress because of COVID-19. It’s important to acknowledge that school will look and feel quite different this year, whether it’s in-person learning, remote learning or a combination of both. You can help your children to know what to expect, be flexible when things are uncertain, and feel confident about the return to school. For more information on ways you can support your child’s mental health and wellbeing during the return to school, School Mental Health Ontario (SMHO) has put together a great tip sheet for parents and families. Have a look: https://www.ugdsb.ca/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/Supporting-Mental-Health-and-Wellness-during-the-Return-to-School-Tip-Sheet-EN.pdf.