Ottawa Public Health releases new COVID-19 screening tool for students

OTTAWA — Ottawa Public Health has updated its “COVID-19 Screening Tool for School or Child Care”, which includes changes to the list of symptoms that would force students to stay home.

New guidelines released by the Ontario Government state children with only a runny nose, headache or sore throat can return to school or daycare after 24 hours without a negative COVID-19 test result, as long as the symptoms are improving.

Ontario also removed abdominal pain and pink eye from the list of COVID-19 symptoms in the screening tool.

Ottawa Public Health says the purpose of its screening tool is to help parents and guardians make decisions about whether their child can attend school or child care.

“This screening tool should be completed daily before attending school/child care for each individual child,” said Ottawa Public Health.

The Ottawa Public Health COVID-19 Screening Tool for School and Child Care asks parents:

  • Has your child travelled outside of Canada in the last 14 days?
  • Has your child been in close physical contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 in the past 14 days?
  • In the last 14 days, has your child been in close physical contact with someone who returned from outside of Canada in the last two weeks with new COVID-19 symptoms?
  • Has your child’s household contacts (family members and/or roommates) or other contacts outside of school/child care presented with new COVID-19 symptoms?

The next question is, “Does your child have any of the following symptoms? (Choose any/all that are new, worsening, and not related to other causes or conditions

  • Fever (Temperature of 37.8C or greater)
  • Chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Decrease or loss of smell or taste
  • None of the above symptoms

If you answered “yes” to any of the symptoms included under the question, the Ottawa Public Health screening tool says “your child should not attend school/child care today and should get tested for COVID-19 as soon as possible.”

The last question asks, “Does your child have any of the following symptoms? Choose any/all that are new, worsening, and not related to other known causes

  • Sore throat (painful swallowing or difficulty swallowing)
  • Stuffy nose and/or runny nose
  • Headache
  • Nausea, vomiting and/or diarrhea
  • Fatigue, lethargy, muscle aches or malaise

If you answer “yes” to only one of the symptoms, the Ottawa Public Health screening tool says, “your child should stay home for at least 24 hours from when the symptom started.”

“If the symptom is improving and your child does not have a fever and at least 24 hours have passed your child may return to school/child care when they feel well enough to do so. A negative COVID-19 test is not required to return. Household contacts who are symptom-free can end their self-isolation.”

Ottawa Public Health’s screening tool says if you answer “yes” to two or more symptoms under the question, “your child should not attend school/child care today and should get tested for COVID-19 as soon as possible.”

COVID-19 screening tool for school boards

Ottawa Public Health says it’s recommending all Ottawa school boards implement the updated guidelines in the Ottawa Public Health “COVID-19 Screening Tool for School or Child Care.”

Some parents asked CTV News Ottawa over the weekend if their child can go to school despite not receiving the results of a COVID-19 test, because they only one symptom like a runny nose.

In a statement to CTV News Ottawa on Sunday, Ottawa Public Health said it continues to participate in ongoing discussions with the schools boards in Ottawa to ensure understanding regarding the new screening tool. OPH is recommending that Ottawa school boards implement the updated guidelines in OPH’s screening tool.”

Ottawa Public Health is not recommending boards “grandfather” in the previous guidelines.

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