Plan Prevents and Minimizes Outbreaks to Keep Students and Staff Safe
TORONTO — As part of Ontario’s plan for students to safely return to the classroom in September, the government has released the Operational Guidance: COVID-19 Management in Schools document. This guide was developed in consultation with public health experts, including Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, and aims to help schools identify and isolate COVID-19 cases, reduce the spread of COVID-19 in schools, and prevent and minimize outbreaks.In addition, Dr. Dirk Huyer, who was recently the Executive Lead for the COVID-19 Testing Approach at the Command Table and is the Chief Coroner for Ontario, will serve as Coordinator, Provincial Outbreak Response. Dr. Huyer will lead the province’s efforts to prevent and minimize COVID-19 outbreaks in a number of sectors, including the education, child care, agriculture and health care sectors.
Details were provided today by Premier Doug Ford, Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education, Dr. David Williams, Chief Medical Officer of Health, and Dr. Dirk Huyer.
“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.”
The guidance document will help school boards and school authorities consistently implement prevention measures, maintain accurate records of staff, students and visitors, work with their local public health units, and take appropriate action when staff, students, or visitors become ill during the school day. It includes detailed instructions for a variety of different scenarios. It also outlines recommendations for what parents should do to support their children.
“Ontario’s COVID-19 management plan for schools was developed by medical leaders, with one aim: to maximize safety and minimize the risk to your children,” said Minister Lecce. “We have the resources in place ― from nursing to testing and enhanced screening and cleaning ― to help prevent the spread, coupled with a comprehensive plan to respond to any challenge immediately and decisively, under the leadership of Dr. Huyer.”
Key elements of the guidance document explain:
“The Government of Ontario needs to be prepared to identify and mitigate outbreaks, especially in settings such as schoo ls and child care centres,” said Dr. Dirk Huyer. “Through enhanced planning across government, we will be positioned to intervene quickly to prevent outbreaks and the spread of COVID-19.”
The Chief Medical Officer of Health is also issuing an additional public health guidance, COVID-19 Guidance: School Outbreak Management, for medical officers of health and public health units to support their efforts in investigating cases, outbreaks, and suspected outbreaks in school settings.
“As schools welcome students and teachers back in the coming weeks, it’s important for everyone to be informed and understand their role in keeping each other safe,” said Dr. David Williams. “This guidance document provides a thorough management plan for school boards, schools, parents and community partners like public health units to respond to COVID-19.”
The new guidance includes the following:
On top of hiring more public health nurses for schools, education staff will have completed rigourous professional development on health and safety.As the COVID-19 outbreak continues to evolve, the guidance document will help support parents and schools as they continue to work together during these unprecedented times. The Minister of Education has issued a letter to parents to outline the shared responsibility to keep students safe and the key elements of the outbreak management protocol.
TORONTO – Ontario Premier Doug Ford will be joined by Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education, Dr. Dirk Huyer, Chief Coroner for Ontario, and Dr. David Williams, Chief Medical Officer of Health, to make an announcement.