There are many respiratory viruses currently circulating in Lambton. COVID-19, combined with seasonal influenza, rhinovirus, and increased levels of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is creating a uniquely challenging time. Unlike the peak of the pandemic when older adults were the most vulnerable, children aged five and under are at most risk this season.
This page includes COVID-19 and other respiratory virus guidance and resources that may be applicable for both child care centres (includes licensed child care centres, home child care agencies, before and after school programs and early years programs) and schools (JK to grade 12).
NOTE: The respiratory illness season is a complex season involving many circulating viruses at the same time. While many resources have been created and labelled as “COVID-19” resources, the fundamentals and infection prevention and control best practices described in the resources are applicable to our current viral scenario
Ontario Guidance Documents
Schools, licensed child care centres, home child care agencies, before and after school programs and EarlyON settings should follow the guidance provided by the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Education for the management of COVID-19:
Ministry of Health
Ministry of Education
- COVID-19: health and safety measures for child care
- COVID-19: health and safety measures at schools
- Plan to catch up
Infection Prevention and Control
- Good hand hygiene
- Stay up to date on vaccinations
- Stay home when sick
- Enhanced cleaning procedures
- Improved ventilation
- Availability of high-quality masks for students and staff
- Guide to Common Childhood Infections
Recommendations for schools to reduce the spread of Respiratory illness
Daily Self Screening
- Staff, students, and visitors are encouraged to stay home when sick to prevent the spread of infections.
- School and child care screening
Respiratory Etiquette, including Cleaning Hands Often
- Support and encourage proper hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette.
- Educate staff and students on proper hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette.
- Wash your hands with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer (70-90% alcohol concentration), provided hands are not visibly soiled. Remind staff and students to avoid touching their face, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue. Dispose of tissue immediately after use in a garbage receptacle with lined plastic bags.
- Monitor supplies to ensure adequate amounts of liquid soap, paper towel, (air dryer if paper towels are not available), hand sanitizer, tissues and waste receptacles with lined plastic bags.
- Provide alcohol-based hand sanitizer (70-90% alcohol concentration) in dispensers near entrances, service counters and other high touch locations for staff, student and visitor use. Monitor and refill as needed.
- Schools must ensure that staff /students have the ability to practice hand hygiene when needed:
- Incorporate hygiene into breaks/recess, between school activities and before and after snacks and lunchtime/meals.
- Masks protect ourselves and others from respiratory infections, especially when indoors. The Province strongly recommends everyone wear a well-fitted, high-quality mas in all indoor public settings to protect ourselves and others this season, especially:
- Individuals who are at higher risk of getting very sick from a respiratory virus (such as children under five years of age)
- Individuals who live, work or spend time with someone who is at higher risk
Consider safe options for large gatherings
- Masks are not mandatory, but consideration can be given to encouraging student/staff/visitors to wear masks during large indoor crowded gatherings with limited ventilation.
- Physical distancing is not mandatory, but can be considered where possible.
- Outdoor large gatherings may be preferable to indoor ones.
Implement enhanced environmental cleaning and disinfection practices
- Assign dedicated facility staff to complete environmental cleaning and disinfection duties.
- Ensure frequent cleaning and disinfecting of high-touch surfaces and shared objects (e.g. doorknobs, water fountain knobs, light switches, toilet and faucet handles, electronic devices, tabletops) at least once a day and when visibly dirty.
- Review Public Health Ontario’s Cleaning and Disinfection for Public Settings fact sheet.
- Refer to Health Canada’s list of hard surface disinfectants and hand sanitizers for use against COVID-19 for approved products.
- The focus should be on regular hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette to reduce the risk of infection related to shared equipment, particularly when regular cleaning of shared objects is not feasible.