Back to School Information: Canada


Each province and territory across Canada has released individual plans for the safe reopening of schools during the 2020-21 school year. The latest information released by provinces and territories can be accessed using the links below in alphabetical order. In some provinces and territories, individual school boards may be releasing more information on what the school day will look like. Consult your regional school board’s website for the most up to date information.

National Guidance Including Information on Remote, Isolated and Indigenous Communities 

The Government of Canada has released guidance for the reopening of schools across the country, which can be accessed using the link below. It is important to note that individual plans for reopening schools will vary among different provinces and territories, and will be directed by the guidance of local public health agencies.


Photo by Luis Melendez

SickKids Recommendations and Guidelines  

SickKids Toronto in collaboration with other stakeholders has also released relevant back-to-school information. The most recent document can be accessed using the following link.

Quick Facts

  • The overall health recommendation is for children to return to school daily, with proper measures in place to reduce the risk of infection
  • This decision is based on the need to balance the risk of COVID-19 transmission in students with the negative impacts of school closures on learning, physical health, and mental wellbeing
  • Schools should have virtual or hybrid education alternatives ready if needed at any time during the year

Government of Ontario Operational Guidelines

The Government of Ontario has released a set of operational guidelines in the event of confirmed COVID-19 cases or outbreaks in schools. These guidelines may continue to change as the situation progresses in the province. The key points of this document have been summarized below. The full operational plan can be accessed can be accessed using the following link.

Communicating cases of COVID-19 with the school community
  • Schools administrators and school boards will be responsible for implementing measures set out by the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Health, and the local public health unit to prevent the spread of COVID-19 during the academic year. 
  • In the event that a student or staff member contracts COVID-19, this will be communicated to families through the school board’s website. 
  • School boards will be required to set up a COVID-19 advisory section on their website where this information can be found.
  • The identity of a student or staff member who has tested positive for COVID-19 will remain anonymous. 
  • If the local public health unit advises that the school should be closed, students, staff and parents will be informed immediately.

Managing a confirmed case of COVID-19 within the school community
  • Those who test positive for COVID-19 will be asked to remain in isolation for 14 days and stay home until they are cleared to return to school by a health provider or public health unit. 
  • Every individual who tests positive for COVID-19 will be contacted by their public health unit for follow-up. 
  • Schools should be able to provide education remotely to students who are self-isolating.
School closure protocol for outbreaks
  • An outbreak in a school setting is defined as two or more confirmed cases of COVID-19 within a 14-day period, where at least one case could have been contracted within the school. 
  • School administrators will be responsible for reporting a probable or confirmed case of COVID-19 to the local public health unit in the area if they become aware of it.
  • Schools will also monitor student absenteeism and share this information with the public health unit as requested for timely follow-up with families. 
  • In case of an outbreak, the public health unit will determine which student cohort(s) should be sent home and whether a full or partial school closure is required.
School reopening after an outbreak
  • The local public health unit will declare the outbreak over when 14 days have passed since the last school-associated case and no other symptomatic individuals are waiting to be tested.
  • A school outbreak does not necessarily need to be over to re-open the school (e.g. student cohorts in which there is no active transmission of the virus may be brought back to school).
Managing sick individuals during school hours
  • Students should be aware of how to identify COVID-19 symptoms and report to school staff if such symptoms are observed. 
  • If a student or staff member becomes ill during school hours, anyone providing care to the individual should maintain physical distance, wear a protective mask and eye protection. 
  • Environmental cleaning of the areas where the ill individual was present during the day will take place.
  • The ill individual and their parent/guardian will be advised to seek medical attention and COVID-19 testing.
  • Even if the staff or student tests negative for COVID-19, they should not return to school until at least 24 hours after their symptoms have resolved.
Meeting special education needs
  • School boards may consider implementing additional planning and transition time for students with special needs.
  • The option of daily attendance should be offered for students with adapted timetables if remote learning is difficult based on the students’ special education needs.
  • School boards may work with regulated health professionals, social service professionals and others to deliver school-based supports for students.

Disclaimer: The information regarding COVID-19 is changing constantly as more data become available. The information provided in this website is not meant to replace diabetes healthcare team, public health agencies, education authorities or schools recommendations, and is intended for information purposes only. Please check with your local authorities for any specific directions.

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