In light of recent changes to Public Health guidance regarding COVID-19 variants of concern, I want to provide you with an update on what these changes are, and how they will affect our school communities moving forward.
We know these variants are now present in Ontario, and evidence shows they are more contagious than the original strain of COVID-19. Accordingly, continued adherence to ALL public health guidelines and best practices is crucial.
Effective immediately, only ONE symptom is necessary to require COVID-19 testing.
Any students or staff with any new or worsening symptom of COVID-19, even those with only ONE symptom, must stay home until:
- They receive a negative COVID-19 test result, or
- They receive an alternative diagnosis by a health care professional, or
- It has been 10 days since their symptom onset and they are feeling better.
If staff/student/child has tested negative for COVID-19 they can return to school/childcare if all the following apply:
- They do not have a fever (without using medication)
- It has been at least 24 hours since their symptoms started improving.
- They were not in close physical contact with someone who currently has COVID-19
HPE and KFL&A Public Health Units have updated their respective screening tools for school/childcare and modified existing guidance on isolation and contact management to reflect these changes.
Government of Ontario Resources:
Updated Screening, Isolation, and Contact Management Procedures: In order to proactively respond to the potential of variant cases in our region, Public Health units are following enhanced case and contact management measures which will impact the response to any cases identified in schools.
Due to the increased transmissibility of the variants of concern, case and contact management protocols have been enhanced as follows:
- All household contacts of symptomatic individuals are required to isolate until the individual receives a negative COVID-19 test result or an alternative diagnosis is provided by a healthcare professional. If the symptomatic individual does not seek COVID-19 testing, all household contacts must isolate for 14 days from their last contact with the symptomatic individual.
- If a high-risk contact becomes symptomatic, they will be treated as a probable case (until proven otherwise). Contact tracing will be initiated as soon as symptomatic status is confirmed. The household contacts of these symptomatic high-risk contacts will also be impacted and will be required to isolate as appropriate.
- Criteria for classifying a high-risk exposure has been expanded. This means that more staff/students may be considered high risk.
- Public Health may advise an individual who has come in contact with a COVID-19 positive person to be tested more than once during their period of isolation.
Reminder - All secondary school students must complete their online screening each day prior to attending school
Asymptomatic testing: School boards continue to work with the Ministry of Education and Public Health Units toward voluntary asymptomatic targeted testing programs for students within their schools. These plans are still being finalized and more information will be shared with you prior to any of these programs commencing.
We understand these changes may create unforeseen challenges for families, and that many of you are likely experiencing COVID fatigue. I want to thank you for your steadfast commitment to staying safe and healthy, as we continue our mission to build faith filled learning communities where each member is loved, inspired, and successful.
“Though I fall, I will rise again. The Lord will be my light." Micah 7:8
Director of Education