Resources to support school board staff in the safe reopening of Ontario schools.
Vaccines are safe, effective, and the best way to protect you and those around you against COVID-19.
The Ontario government, in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, has taken action to increase protection for our most vulnerable, including young children who are not yet eligible for vaccination. This includes making COVID-19 vaccination policies mandatory in high-risk settings, pausing the province’s exit from the Roadmap to Reopen, and providing third doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to vulnerable populations. The government has also expanded eligibility for the Pfizer vaccine to children born in 2009 or earlier.
To support the need for vaccination policies, the Ministry of Education has introduced a vaccination disclosure policy for all publicly-funded school board employees, and staff in private schools as well as for all staff in licensed child care settings for the 2021-22 school year, with rapid antigen testing requirements for staff who are not immunized against COVID-19.
Vaccination policies will also be implemented in post-secondary institutions.
“With the support of Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, our government is taking action to make schools as safe as possible,” said Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education. “Our plan will protect our schools, ensure rapid speed with contact tracing, all with the intention of keeping them open for the benefit of Ontario students.”
Furthermore, vaccination clinics will be hosted by the Ontario government in partnership with public health units and publicly funded school boards, in or nearby schools to continue to fight COVID-19. Clinics are expected to run before school starts and during the first few weeks and will provide accessible and convenient access to vaccines for eligible students and their families, as well as educators and school staff who are returning to school.
Learn more about mandatory vaccination policies for high-risk settings here.
Health and Safety Protocols
The key risk factors for COVID-19 transmission include:
- Prolonged exposure - spending more time with potentially infected people.
- Close proximity - working close to others.
- Crowded places - having more people in a space.
- Closed spaces - indoor spaces with less fresh air exchange (working indoors is riskier than working outdoors).
- Forceful exhalation - activities that cause people to breathe more deeply, such as exercise, speaking loudly, and singing.
It is possible for COVID-19 to be spread by people who do not have any symptoms. This makes effective control measures very important so we must act as if everyone is infected when setting up controls. The risk of severe health outcomes is not the same for all workers.
Similar to the previous school year, there are various protocols to follow to keep yourself and others safe in the workplace. It’s important to remember to:
- Maintain physical distancing of at least 2 metres (6 feet) or more between persons.
- Wear a mask or face covering when in an indoor public place.
- Promote good hygiene such as:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water when hands are visibly soiled, before and after any breaks, at the beginning and end of their shift, and before preparing food or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer (60% - 90% alcohol content) if hand washing is not possible.
- Sneeze and cough into your sleeve.
- If you use a tissue, discard it immediately and wash your hands afterward.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth.
- Avoid high-touch areas, where possible, or ensure you clean your hands after.
- Implement regular cleaning and disinfection (see environmental cleaning and disinfection)
- Minimize contact with people who are sick and ensure controls are in place for the protection of workers.
- Wash your hands and clothes as soon as you get home.
- Self-monitor for illness.
- Instruct workers to stay home if they are sick.
- Instruct staff who have symptoms or think they were exposed to COVID-19, to notify their supervisor immediately, complete the self-assessment and follow the instructions provided.
Learn more about health and safety guidance during COVID-19 for school employers.
Making sure schools have proper ventilation was an important next step in ensuring the safety of those returning back to the classroom. All occupied classrooms, gyms, libraries, and other instructional spaces without mechanical ventilation will have standalone high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter units in place when students and educators are back in class, including Junior and Senior Kindergarten classrooms in mechanically ventilated schools to recognize that the youngest learners will not be wearing masks in the classroom.
The Ontario Government will also provide school boards with a standardized reporting tool on ventilation improvements to ensure that information is publicly available across the province, including inspection, use of standalone HEPA filter units, use of higher-grade filters, and more frequent filter changes.
Learn more about school ventilation here.
COVID-19 Workplace Safety Plan
Did you know under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, as an employer it’s your responsibility to take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances to protect a worker? Guidance created by the Ontario Government will help you use current public health and workplace health and safety information to develop a plan and put controls such as screening, physical distancing, masks or face coverings, cleaning and disinfecting of surfaces and objects, and the wearing of personal protective equipment, into place to help keep you and your workers safe and to help stop the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace.
All operating businesses must have a written safety plan by law. The plan must be made available to anyone who asks to see it, and posted in a place where it will be accessed easily such as a lunch/break room, or available online.
Learn more on how to develop your COVID-19 workplace safety plan.
For more information, please visit Ontario’s COVID-19 health and safety measures at schools page.
PSHSA COVID-19 Resource Centre
Health & Safety Training for School Reopening
Guidance For Employers:
Access to Schools
Guidance For Workers:
Day Camp Workers
Janitors, Caretakers or Superintendents
Other COVID-19 Resources:
Government of Canada
Ministry of Education
Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development
Public Health Ontario
Public Health Unit Locator