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Enhanced COVID-19 measures begin at HPE schools

Due to an increase in the number of cases reported in elementary schools, as well as transmission within the schools, enhanced COVID-19 measures will begin Dec. 7 at Hastings Prince Edward District School board schools.

Hastings Prince Edward Public Health notes transmission of COVID-19 between school-aged children not only increases the risk of spread within households and the community, but is resulting in isolation of multiple cohorts and children.

“HPEPH recognizes these isolation requirements have a tremendous impact on the families of school-aged children,” a media release Monday states. “Isolation dates are now nearing the winter break and is impacting access to vaccination since children who are isolated cannot attend their vaccination appointments.”

The following measures are to enhance current screening and other measures in HPE schools until further notice while vaccination rates for this age group increases:

To reduce the risk of COVID-19 spreading in local elementary schools, parents of children aged 5-11 are strongly advised to book an appointment to get their child vaccinated. HPEPH states the impact of COVID-19 vaccination has proven beneficial as there are limited cases and spread in the secondary schools.

For more information about vaccination for children and youth, visit hpepublichealth.ca/covid-19-vaccines-youth/. To book an appointment, visit covid19.ontariohealth.ca.

Enhanced school symptom screening requirements are effective Tuesday. An information package about the enhanced screening requirements was to be sent home with students Monday.

COVID-19 case investigations show that children are attending school while they have symptoms of illness, which is contributing to the spread of the virus.

In addition, 27 per cent of local students (school aged) who have tested positive for COVID-19 since September have had symptoms that are not caught in the provincial screening tool, such as a runny nose, sore throat, headache, and more.

To reduce the risk of COVID-19 exposure within schools, enhanced screening will require that students stay home from school if they have any of the symptoms listed below.
Symptoms listed on Provincial School Screener  and HPEPH additional symptoms:
Fever (37.8°C/100°F) and/or chills
Cough or barking cough
Shortness of breath
Decrease or loss of taste or smell
Nausea, vomiting and/or diarrhea
Fatigue
Muscle aches and pain
Sore throat
Difficulty swallowing
Runny or stuffy nose
Abdominal pain
Headache
Conjunctivitis (pink eye)
Decreased or lack of appetite

Staff and students will not be permitted to attend school if they do not pass both the provincial and HPEPH screening tools. If these symptoms are identified while at school, the student/staff will be sent home until conditions of both the provincial and HPEPH screening are met.

To return to school, the symptomatic person must:
– have received a negative COVID-19 test result and their symptoms have been improving significantly for at least 24 hours (48 hours for gastrointestinal symptoms);
– OR they have received an alternative diagnosis from a health care professional.
– OR have isolated for a minimum of 10 days since symptoms started; and
pass the daily screener

More information about the HPEPH enhanced screening tool is available at hpepublichealth.ca/school-screening. A printable PDF version is also available.

Testing options have been expanded beyond community assessment centres to include take-home testing, and testing at participating pharmacies. Parents are advised to choose the testing option that is most convenient. For testing options, visit hpePublicHealth.ca/getting-tested-for-covid-19/

In addition, schools will:
– Monitor for staff/students who are sent to school with other symptoms of COVID-19. If these symptoms are present, the individual will be sent home (unless the child has received a negative COVID-19 test result or alternate diagnosis since symptoms started).
– Require masking when outdoors, if cohorts are not maintained in elementary schools;
– Require masking in JK/SK classrooms and on school transportation.

These measures will be in place starting Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2021 until further notice.

Filed Under: Local News

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