Reopening Ontario – Fall 2021
Included below is information for supporting your family and those you care for in various settings:
Lambton Public Health is here to support you, your family, caregivers, and all settings involved with the care, growth, and development of your loved ones. We are in this together and it is only by acting as one can we get through it. Looking for more information? Send us a question.
If you or a family member is experiencing symptoms that you are concerned about, please use Ontario’s COVID-19 Self Assessment Tool.
Families at Home
Have questions about prenatal care? Looking for information about breastfeeding? Experiencing the “baby blues”? Questions about growth and development or parenting? Call our Family Health Line at 519-383-3817 and/or visit our webpage about your child’s health.
COVID-19 Resources for Parents
- COVID-19 Vaccination During Pregnancy – The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada
- COVID-19 – Pregnancy, Childbirth and Caring for Newborns – Public Health Canada
- Is the COVID Vaccine Safe for Kids? – Pediatricians of Ontario
- Shared Parenting Tips – Lambton Public Health
- How to Care for A Child Who Needs to Self-Isolate – Public Health Ontario
- Does my partner get parenting time if my child and I are self-isolating or under quarantine? – Steps to Justice
- COVID-19: Kids, here’s what you need to know – Government of Canada
Mental Health Resources
- Family Care Centre – Children’s Mental Health Ontario
- Mental Health Supports for kids – St Clair Child & Youth Services
- Kids Help Phone – Kids Help Phone is Canada’s only 24/7, national support service. They offer professional counselling, information and referrals and volunteer-led, text-based support to young people in both English and French
- Mental Health Activities for at Home – School Mental Health Ontario
- Covid -19 Youth Mental Health Resource Hub – Jack.org
Caring for Someone in your Household?
Whether you are caring for a family member, friend, or neighbour, follow the recommendations below to prevent the spread of COVID-19:
- Consider your health before helping others, especially if you are at higher-risk for COVID-19.
- Protect yourself using good public health safety measures
- Remember: If you have any symptoms of illness, or have been in close contact with someone who has symptoms, get tested for COVID-19 at an assessment centre, self-isolate and if further care is needed, contact your health care provider or Lambton Public Health.
Caring for Someone Outside your Household?
Consider the following tips to reduce the risk and transmission of COVID-19:
- For non-essential interactions: contact others in a safe way – phone, e-mail, notes, etc.
- If someone has asked you to help them, do not enter their home unless necessary.
- If face-to-face contact is required, remember to practice physical distancing. Wear a mask when physical distancing is not possible
- Limit non-essential visits in and outside of the home. Use food and medication delivery services where possible, connect the person to social programs either over the phone (eg. Tel-check or Lambton County Connects), or set up online chats by downloading apps on their electronic devices or connecting them with social media sites that connect them to programming or loved ones.
COVID-19 Resources for Caregivers
- COVID-19 Resources – Ontario Caregiver Organization
Child Care Centres
As we transition towards recovery, more families are back to work. We may be looking for different child care options. And as more and more child care options open and become available, we want to know that the child care centres are going to be safe.
Lambton County child care providers have been working with Lambton Public Health to put policies and procedures into place to open their doors offering a safer environment. For more information, please refer to our Guidance for Child Care Centres page to see what they are doing to reduce the risk of COVID-19 in children.
Learn more from our Frequently Asked Questions section including details at the bottom of this page about what to do when your child is sick, when your child can return, and what happens when a child tests positive with COVID-19.
Day & Overnight Camps
Camp is often a great experience for children for continued growth, learning, and development. As we learn to live with COVID-19 and further transition through recovery, day and overnight camps are making changes to reduce the transmission of COVID-19 in campers and staff. To learn more, please refer to our Guidance for Day and Overnight Camps page
Parents face a difficult choice in weighing the anxieties of returning to school against the emotional strain and social isolation of on-line learning at home. Those decisions should be guided by the advice of public health officials, the prevalence of the virus in the community, the family’s risk factors and the child’s individual needs. There’s no perfect answer for everybody; it is going to be uncomfortable and we need to be able to adjust and accept the big emotions and feelings along the way. Medical professionals can offer advice to help figure out what’s best for your family.
One of the most important things parents/guardians can do to help slow the spread of COVID-19 is keeping their children home when they have symptoms of illness.
For more information, read the Guidance for Schools to see what they are doing to reduce the risk of COVID-19.
Reopening of Schools
- Reopening and Operating out Schools September 2021 – Lambton Kent District School Board
- Return to School Plan 2021-2022 – St. Clair Catholic District School Board
- Back-to-School Guides 2021-2022 – Conseil scolaire Viamonde
- Back to School 2021-22 – CSC Providence
Preparing your Children for In-School Learning
Before we get back to learning, we’ll need to relearn “back to school”. Help your young person know what to expect, schedule in extra time for setbacks, and model patience – it’s everyone’s first day at school this year.
Things to Consider: Relearning Back to school
- Screen for COVID-19 every day before going to school (use this tool if you are unsure)
- Practice good public health safety measures
- Practice good toilet training behaviours
- Label all items going into school
- Normalize the expression of feelings, and foster coping strategies for big emotions
- Ensure your child’s immunizations are up to date
Remember: It’s ok to feel overwhelmed as a parent, reach out to trusted supports when you’re in need.
Preparing your Children for At-Home or Remote Learning
As a parent it is always your right to decide what is best for your child. If for whatever reason you feel the safest place for your child to learn is at home, it is within your rights to engage them with at-home or remote learning.
The school boards have made remote, online learning available so be sure to review that information found in the boards’ respective back to school plans.
While learning at home, your child will still need structure and a routine for their day that includes healthy meals, time for physical activity and time to socialize.
If you choose to school your child at home here are some additional resources for you to review:
- Learn at home – Ministry of Education – activities, courses, and more
- Learning outcomes – Ministry of Education
- Activities to do with Kids – Lambton Public Health
- Physical Activity for Kids (Virtual – at home) – YMCA
- Check out Lambton County Libraries
Learn more from our Frequently Asked Questions section including details at the bottom of this page about what to do if your child is sick, what is a school outbreak, school closure or reopening process, positive cases at a school or in a classroom, mental health, bus safety, physical distancing, and wearing a face covering.
In the Community
There are lots of things that you can do alone or with others while reducing your risk of COVID-19. Everyone’s risk level and perception of risk is different. Check out our Going Out Safely info-graphic/poster to decide what is best for your family. Learn about ways to protect yourself and your family while returning to a new normal.
Whenever you are out, remember to:
- Keep a distance of 2 metres (6 feet) from others.
- Wear a mask when you are required to do so.
- Wash your hands thoroughly.
- Cough/sneeze into your sleeve or use a tissue. Dispose of tissue immediately and wash your hands.
- Stay home if you are sick.
Frequently Asked Questions
Don’t panic. Your child may be sick for any number of reasons. If your child is sick, at home or at child care, please refer to our guidance document for next steps: “Your child is sick. Now what?” If you choose to have a test, you can find more on our Testing and Assessment centres page.
More information on what to expect when you get your COVID-19 test (for children)
All close contacts of the positive case, including members of the cohort (staff and children) will be contacted either by phone or letter which will provide instructions on self-isolation. If contacted, the child must self-isolate and not return to daycare for 10 days from the last exposure. Lambton Public Health recommends one parent/guardian isolate with the child, if feasible. Household members who are fully vaccinated can continue regular activities. Household members who are not fully vaccinated, should only leave the house for essential reasons such as school or work, and must fully isolate themselves, if anyone in the house becomes symptomatic. The whole centre does not need to close unless the outbreak spreads to another room/cohort.
If a student or staff person has tested positive for COVID-19, it is currently required that the associated school report the positive case; even if no one else needs to be isolated.
There are many factors that go into assessing the need for close contacts to isolate. With a case at a school, attendance is a large factor. If the positive case wasn’t at school during their infectious period, there would be no need to isolate cohorts of students. There are different reasons that the positive case may not have been at school.
The best way to assist your child with physical distancing is to teach them how and why at home. Explain to your children why it is important. When you are out in public, point out markers, signs, etc., that explain physical distancing. Schools will have physical distance policies in place and will do their best to make sure they are followed. If your child understands it, they are much more likely to practice physical distancing properly.
The best thing you can do for your child is give them opportunities at home before school starts to practice wearing a mask. Try giving them an enjoyable activity to do while wearing the mask. If your child has a medical reason they cannot wear a mask, i.e. breathing problems, anxiety, etc. talk to your school principal about how to navigate this.
The Ontario government and Lambton Public Health continue to monitor the local and provincial case rates. If schools are required to suspend in-person learning for the safety of the school community, virtual learning will resume. All school boards have prepared Learn at Home plans to ensure learning will continue with minimal interruptions.
Every new environment increases risk for exposure; however, school boards and bus companies are implementing strategies to lower the risk of transmission where they can. The best thing you can do to assist your child with reducing their own risk on the bus is prepare them for the experience.
• Teach them the importance of physical distancing.
• Explain why it is important for them to sit in their assigned seat for the whole ride.
• Help them practice wearing a face covering/mask so they feel comfortable wearing it while on the bus.
For more information about Chatham-Kent Lambton Administrative School Services “CLASS” School Bussing plans visit their website.
To support successful case and contact management, schools will ensure records of classes, transported students, and visitors to the school are readily available for contact tracing purposes. If you or your child has had close contact with a person who tested positive for COVID-19, you will be contacted by Lambton Public Health either by phone or letter and provided with follow-up information. If you have not been contacted, you have not been in close contact with the confirmed case.
Unvaccinated close contacts will be dismissed from school for a self-isolation period of 10-days from last exposure to the case. Isolation dates may differ depending on individual exposures, and if the contact becomes a case. Contacts should self-monitor for symptoms and are recommended to get tested immediately, as well as on or after day 7 of isolation. Household members will be asked to self-monitor and only leave home for essential purposes (work, school, child care, medical appointments, food). Household members who are not fully vaccinated need to immediately self isolate if any household members become symptomatic.
In these uncertain times, an important way to care for others is to care for ourselves. If you are feeling worried or uncomfortable about sending your children back to school, you’re not alone, that is to be expected. Be sure to deal with your emotions in healthy ways by staying physically active, eating and sleep well, and talking openly with loved ones. If you are feeling so overwhelmed that it is impacting your day to day functioning, you may want to reach out to a mental health professional.
Your child is experiencing a lot of emotions right now, you can support them in a few ways:
• Help them identify their emotions and express them in a safe way. Talk about how certain emotions feel, discuss safe ways to express them (ie. drawing, physical activity, journaling, etc.), and let them know those feelings are natural.
• Help them prepare for back to school (or any other new) experience. Practice masking at home, as much as possible share what they can expect to see and what might be different, and help them cultivate patience and kindness towards themselves and others. This is new for everyone.
• Reassure them that this will pass. Feeling uncertain or worried is often temporary and will subside with time. Having healthy ways to cope with these feelings can help children become more resilient. Learn more about mental health and back to school at School Mental Health Ontario.
The local public health unit (PHU) is responsible for determining if an outbreak exists, declaring an outbreak, and providing direction on outbreak control measures. An outbreak in a school is defined as two or more lab-confirmed COVID-19 cases in students and/or staff in a school within a 14-day period, where at least one case could have reasonably acquired their infection in the school (including transportation and before or after school care).
In the event of an outbreak, the public health unit will determine whether additional individuals need to be dismissed. This may result in partial or full school dismissals. The local public health unit will work with the school to determine epidemiological links between the cases (i.e. cases in the same class, bus, etc.) which will help guide decisions on dismissals.
Reopening the school
The outbreak does not need to be over to re-open the school. Cohorts without evidence of virus transmission can be gradually brought back to school as additional information and test results become available. Additional preventive measures and active surveillance may be implemented as part of re-opening.
An outbreak will be declared over by the PHU. This may be based on:
• No additional cases linked to the outbreak for 14 days
• No further symptomatic individuals with tests pending
COVID-19 Directive #3 for Long-Term Care Homes issued by the Chief Medical Officer of Health (CMOH) establishes procedures and precautions for visits to long-term care homes and retirement homes.
Visitors are required to follow public health measures (e.g., active screening, physical distancing, hand hygiene, masking) for the duration of their visit in the home; non-compliance could result in a discontinuation of visits. See COVID-19: Information for visitors to long-term care homes for full details. Call your home before visiting.
Before visiting any resident for the first time, training should be provided to caregivers by the home on how to safely provide direct care. After visiting a resident for the first time and at least once every month after, the home should ask caregivers to verbally attest that they have re-read the home’s visitor policy.
The home’s visitor guidance should include the following Public Health Ontario training resources:
• Putting on Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) – Guidance Document
• Putting on Putting on One-Piece Facial Protection -Video
• Taking off One-Piece Facial Protection – Video
• How to Hand Wash – Video
As with all other medical procedures, COVID-19 vaccines are only provided with informed consent. As per the Ontario Health Care Consent Act, there is no age limit that sets out when people can provide informed consent and make medical decisions on their own. Consent can be provided by anyone who is capable of doing so, including those aged 12 to 17. This means they understand the treatment, why it is being recommended, and the risks and benefits if they accept or refuse to be vaccinated. It is the role of the health provider to determine if their patient can consent to treatment and is a regular and routine process that health providers undertake before performing any medical procedure. If a child or youth is incapable of consenting to receiving the vaccine, they would need consent from their substitute decision-maker, such as their parent or legal guardian. The health care provider, school, and family must respect a young person’s decision regarding vaccination.
Ask a Question
Fill out the form below if you have a question about COVID-19 and taking care of children.