COVID-19 and Schools

School is back in session with additional preventive measures in place to protect against COVID-19. The Health Unit is working closely with local school boards and other public health units to ensure a safe return for all students, staff and families.

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For School Board Staff

Click on the following resources for guidance on safe school reopening during COVID-19:

Protocols For Individuals/Schools with COVID-19
Guidance/Checklists for Reopening Schools
Student Nutrition Programs – Guidance and FAQs
For School Bus Drivers/Operators

For Parents
Return to School Protocol for Students with COVID-19 Symptoms
Screening Your Child for COVID-19 Symptoms
Provincial Resources

Guidance documents and resources:

Local School Board Resources

Learn how your local school board is working to support a safe return to class:

Frequently Asked Questions

Should I have my child tested for COVID-19 before they return to school?

Testing your child before returning to school is generally not recommended if they do not have COVID-19 symptoms, unless they have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.

What if my child shows symptoms before going to school or while at school?

As per the Ministry of Education Guide to Reopening Ontario Schools, all students and staff must self-screen every day using a checklist before arriving at school. If a student or staff member is experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19, they must stay home from school and should seek testing and appropriate medical attention.

If a student or staff member feels sick, or develops symptoms while at school, schools will follow the following protocol:

  • Students or staff who develop COVID-19 symptoms will immediately be separated from others, and the family will be contacted to arrange pick-up.
  • Staff and students with symptoms will be directed to seek medical advice including the recommendation of testing for COVID 19 as appropriate or as advised by their medical provider. Check out local COVID 19 Assessment Centre locations, and book an appointment for COVID- 19 testing.
  • Siblings/staff of ill individual can remain in school until further medical advice is received and should self-monitor for symptoms.
  • Staff and/or students who receive an alternative diagnosis than COVID-19 can return to school once they are symptom-free for 24 hours.

Can I go to work if I don’t have any symptoms but my child is ill and we are waiting on results from their COVID-19 test?

If your child is symptomatic and has been tested for COVID-19, you and your family, including siblings, should self-monitor for signs and symptoms of COVID-19. You can continue to go to school and/or work if you have no symptoms.

  • If while self-monitoring symptoms of COVID-19 develop, self-isolate and be tested for COVID-19 (and no longer attend work and school).
  • If any members of your household test positive for COVID-19, you will be contacted by Public Health directly with more detailed advice.

What if there is a positive case in my child’s school?

If a COVID-19 positive case is identified in a school, staff from the Health Unit will provide further instructions on who else in the school may need testing and/or monitoring/isolation at that time. Staff/children who are being managed by public health (e.g. confirmed cases of COVID-19, household contacts of cases, etc.) must follow the instructions provided by the HKPR District Health Unit on when they can return to school.

What if a parent/guardian tests positive for COVID-19?

Parents/guardians are not required to report their test results to their school, however it is recommended. Members of your household are required to self-isolate and should not attend work or school. If your child is at school, your child should be picked up immediately. Staff from the HKPR District Health Unit will be in contact with you for assessment and provide further direction.

Who will declare an outbreak at the school?

The Heath Unit will declare an outbreak after identifying two or more lab-confirmed COVID-19 cases in students and/or staff (or other visitors) in a school with an epidemiological link where at least one case could have reasonably acquired their infection in the school (including transportation and before/after school care).

Examples of reasonably having acquired infection in school include:

  • No obvious source of infection outside of the school setting; OR
  • Known exposure in the school setting

HKPR District Health Unit staff will work closely with the school to determine close contacts of the case and will provide direction on isolation and facilitate testing.

Additional Resources

Click on the following for additional support:

Changes to Health Unit Services in Schools Due to COVID-19

Due to the pandemic, the following services in schools are being impacted:

  • School-Based Immunization for Grade 7/8 students will not take place this fall due to COVID-19. Normally, the Health Unit provides vaccines for Hep B, HPV and Meningococcal. You can still ensure your Grade 7/8 student is vaccinated for these illnesses, as the Health Unit is offering appointment-based clinics at its offices (with full COVID-19 prevention measures in place). Book your child’s vaccination appointment by calling 1-866-888-4577, ext. 1507.
  • Dental Screening for students in schools has been postponed until further notice. If your child has a toothache or cavity AND you are unable to pay for dental treatment, the Healthy Smiles Ontario (HSO) program may be able to help pay for dental care costs. For help to enroll your child in the HSO program, call the Health Unit at 1-866-888-4577, ext. 1247.
  • Vision Screening for SK students has been cancelled for the 2020/21 school year. It’s recommended you call an optometrist to book a FREE eye examination for your child. To find an optometrist in your area, visit the College of Optometrists of Ontario or call the Health Unit at 1-866-888-4577, ext. 1216.

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For Students

Check out these resources to help stay safe at school during the pandemic:

About COVID-19
Washing Hands
Fighting Germs
Wearing Masks
Mental Health Support

Halloween Safety During COVID-19

Halloween is a popular celebration, but due to COVID-19, play it safe. Many traditional Halloween activities can be high-risk for spreading illness, so continuing with them in the middle of COVID-19 is not recommended. The key is to find a balance between keeping safe while trying to maintain some sense of normalcy.

This Halloween, consider safer alternatives that can be done close to home. You and your family can still celebrate the season in ‘spooktacular’ fashion – along with peace of mind.

On This Page:

  • The Health Unit recommends rethinking the usual door-to-door trick-or-treating this year due to COVID-19 concerns. Instead, find creative ways to celebrate the season at home.
  • Print and display an appropriate poster to tell neighbours if you are handing out treats. Select either the Welcome Trick or Treaters poster or Sorry See You Next Year version.
  • If you want to hand out candy to hearty trick-or-treaters, plan for success. Ideally, do so outside being sure to wash your hands often and thoroughly with soap and water or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Consider setting up a table or chair at the end of your walk or driveway to make handing out candy easier. Do NOT leave treats in bucket or bowl for kids to graband-go in order to avoid kids crowding around the treats.
  • Wear a face covering and use tongs or similar tools (even the end of a hockey stick) to safely hand out candy (or individually-wrapped goodie bags) while ensuring you maintain a 2-metre (6 foot) distance from trick-or-treaters.
  • Drop treats on your neighbour’s doorsteps, ring the bell, and run away! Make sure to include a spooky note letting your neighbour know they’re from you.
  • If your children are going out trick-or-treating, be sure everyone takes COVID-19 precautions:
    • Do NOT allow your children to go out if they are ill. Parents should also stay home if they are sick.
    • Only go out trick-or-treating with members of your direct household.
    • Only go trick-or-treating outdoors.
    • Maintain a physical distance of 2 metres (6 feet) from others at all times while trick-or-treating. Do not congregate or linger at doorsteps. Line up 2 metres (6-feet) apart if waiting. Avoid high-touch surfaces and objects.
    • Ensure your child wears a proper face covering while trick-or-treating. Choose a costume that makes wearing a mask or face covering easy for your child. Ensure the mask fits well and covers the nose, mouth and chin. Consider building the face covering into your child’s costume (cloth face masks can be made out of different fabrics to allow them to be part of a costume) .NOTE: A costume mask is not a substitute for a face covering. Do not put a costume mask over a face covering as this makes breathing difficult.
    • Wash hands with soap and water before trick-or-treating, when you return home and before snacking.
    • Bring alcohol-based hand sanitizer with you to use while trick-or-treating.
    • Leave any treats you collect for at least 24 hours. Have some ready-to-enjoy favourites set aside for children to enjoy when they return from trick-or-treating.
Halloween at Home

Consider these safer alternatives to do at home:

  • Buy treats for your children and enjoy them at home while watching a scary movie together.
  • Decorate for Halloween inside and outside your home and have children carve pumpkins to add to the festive display.
  • Showcase Halloween craft projects on your porch and in your front windows for your neighbours to enjoy.
  • Craft a countdown calendar – pick a fun Halloween activity to do each day or each weekend in October leading up to the big day.
  • Plan your own monster mash or ‘Halloween-at-home’ party. Get children to dress up in costume to mark the festivities.
  • Make your own spooky treats such as: clementine jack-o-lanterns, monster mix, or ghostly cookies.
  • Organize a Halloween scavenger hunt where children are given holiday-themed items to look for around your home or property. You can also hide treats in different spots and get children to find them.
  • Do an ‘at-home’ version of trick-or-treating by setting up treat stations around your home that children can visit for goodies.
  • Pick out some Halloween themed books to read together.
  • Set up a piñata at home filled with your favourite Halloween treats.
  • Organize and hold a socially distanced costume parade with a few of your neighbours and keep the treats at home to enjoy afterwards.
  • Host a virtual party – set up video chats with friends and family members who can’t celebrate with you. Encourage children to show off their costumes and talk about their favourite treats.
  • Take photos of children dressed in Halloween costume and email/share with grandparents and older relatives who can’t be there in person.  
Social Gatherings
  • Avoid attending Halloween parties or social gatherings — especially those indoors. While Ontario does allow small indoor gatherings of 10 or fewer people and large outdoor gatherings of up to 25 people, being in a social setting with others increases your risk of COVID-19. With cases on the rise in Ontario, it’s best not to take any chances.
  • Do not attend costume parties at other people’s homes. Instead, organize your own at home.
  • Avoid indoor haunted houses where people may be crowded together and screaming, increasing your risk of COVID-19.
  • If you do decide to attend a social gathering, follow COVID-19 precautions. Stay home if sick. Keep a 2 metre (6 foot) physical from others. Wear a mask or face covering. Wash your hands with soap and water, or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable.
Additional Resources

Hunting and COVID-19

Fall is a busy time for hunting in Haliburton County, Northumberland County and the City of Kawartha Lakes. Whether hunting moose, deer or other animals, it’s also important to take aim at COVID-19 by preventing its spread. Here how to stay safe and make the most of your hunting experience during the pandemic.

NOTE: Due to rising COVID-19 cases in the province, Ontario’s Medical Officer of Health is urging everyone to limit trips outside of home for only essential purposes like work, school, groceries, medical appointments and outdoor physical activity. In addition, travel to other regions of Ontario — especially those areas with high rates of COVID-19 transmission to places with low COVID-19 transmission rates — should only be for essential purposes as well. Please keep this in mind before deciding to go hunting.

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Hunting and COVID-19 Prevention

Before You Go

  • Do not put other hunters or individuals at risk. If you’re sick with COVID-19 symptoms, stay home and self-isolate. Use Ontario’s online COVID-19 Self-Assessment tool to see what to do next or call the Health Unit at 1-866-888-4577, ext. 5020.
  • If going to a hunt camp, follow any travel advisories. Before going out, also consider COVID-19 transmission rates in the area where you want to hunt.
  • Ensure physical distancing on the drive to the hunt camp/site. Stick to 2 people per vehicle. The second person should sit in the back, passenger-side seat to ensure proper distance from the driver. Masks should also be worn on the trip. The only exception to this 2-person limit is if travelling in the same vehicle with people from your own household.
  • Pack supplies to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Take soap, alcohol-based hand sanitizer, face coverings/masks, and cleaning/disinfectant supplies.

At Your Hunting Site/Hunt Camp

  • Keep hunting groups at one camp to 10 people or less to comply with Ontario’s indoor gathering limits. The exception would be if people can divide into groups of 10 or less, each with its separate accommodations such as tents, trailers, or separate buildings (and each of which would have its own specific indoor gathering limit). In this case, the maximum number of people allowed on the entire camp property would be up to 25 people (as per Ontario’s limit on outdoor gatherings).
  • Keep your distance from others. While camp life is often communal, try to maintain 2 metres (6 feet) from other hunters who are outside your household.
  • Bring your own tent/trailer in which to sleep and cook. This reduces your exposure to others.
  • If physical distancing isn’t possible, wear face coverings/masks. This applies at camp or in hunting blinds (especially if enclosed).
  • Socialize outdoors rather than inside buildings. Being outdoors reduces the spread of COVID-19.
  • Avoid buffet-style meals. Have people prepare/cook their own meals, ideally in their own tent/trailer. If eating a meal together, have one person make/serve the meal and have them wear a face covering while doing so.
  • Regularly wash your hands with soap and water. If you don’t have access to soap, use alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Sneeze and cough into your sleeve.
  • Clean and disinfect common and high-touch surfaces at the camp.
  • Do not share hunting gear/equipment or personal items (e.g. cigarettes, drinks, cutlery). It’s best to only use your own items.
  • Track the names and contact information of people in your hunting party, just in case contact tracing is needed should someone get COVID-19.
  • NOTE: Conservation Officers with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry have the power to enforce and issue fines for breaches of COVID-19 gathering limits and other rules.

If someone develops one or more symptoms of COVID-19 while hunting, have a plan to communicate with the group and have the individual self-isolate immediately. Call the Health Unit at 1-866-888-4577, ext. 5020, for further direction. Contact 911 if symptoms are severe.

Hunting Safety Rules
  • All hunters must wear solid hunter orange clothing (minimum 400 square inches above the waist) and a hunter orange head cover during gun seasons for deer, moose and elk. Outside the gun season for deer, moose and elk, these requirements also apply to bear hunters who are not hunting from a tree stand.
  • Handle firearms with care and attention at all times. 
  • Never shoot unless you are absolutely sure of your target and what lies beyond it. 
  • It’s illegal to shoot from a vehicle or carry a loaded firearm in or on a vehicle.
  • It is illegal to discharge a firearm from or across the travelled portion of a right of way for public vehicular traffic. 
  • Never drink alcohol and hunt.
  • If you hunt from a tree stand, always wear a safety harness and use a rope to raise and lower your unloaded firearm.

Source: Ontario Provincial Police

General Safety Tips
  • Tell someone where you will be hunting and when you will be returning.
  • Know the weather conditions in your hunting area and dress accordingly.                      
  • In an emergency, stay calm and stay put.
  • Avoid hypothermia. Know how to treat it if it strikes.
  • Keep rested, hydrated and well-nourished.
  • Carry a survival kit and a small first aid kit with you at all times.
  • Know how to build a fire in all weather conditions and carry the supplies to start one.
  • Carry a map and compass or GPS unit and know how to use them.
Additional Resources

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