The Regional Municipality Of York


Schools under surveillance and schools in outbreak

What’s the difference?

Child in school wearing a mask

With the 2020-21 school year underway, it’s undoubtedly a different kind of year with new health and safety measures and processes for students, teachers, staff and families. York Region Public Health works closely with school boards to ensure the Province of Ontario’s operational guidance on COVID-19 management in schools is followed.

York Region Public Health is committed to transparency and working together with schools, school boards, students and parents. As COVID-19 cases are detected in school settings, York Region Public Health works alongside our community partners to ensure frequent communication is provided to anyone impacted, while maintaining the privacy of all those involved.

Information about COVID-19 cases in school settings is available on the Schools/Child Care Cases and Outbreaks dashboard on This information is updated daily at 5 p.m. seven days a week.

COVID-19 cases in schools are reported the following two ways:

Schools under Surveillance

Schools with a laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 case among staff, students or visitors, where there is currently no evidence of transmission within the school.

Case totals may include students or staff who live outside of York Region. This means the totals in the schools under surveillance list may not match case reporting based on place of residence. One laboratory case can be associated with multiple schools.

Schools under surveillance

Schools in COVID-19 Outbreak

An outbreak is declared in schools with two or more laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 cases within a 14-day period, with at least one case which could have been acquired in the schools.

In both cases, Public Health moves in rapidly to do assessments and investigations in schools in COVID-19 outbreak and schools under surveillance. These assessments include tracing close contacts of the positive case whether they have been in before and after school programs, on buses, have cohorts that may have been exposed, possible exposure during recess, and of course, the household contacts including siblings.

It is important for each one of us to try and keep the levels of community transmission down. When the numbers of new cases of COVID-19 decrease, the risk of transmission decreases and the risk of outbreaks in the schools decrease.

Schools in outbreak

What happens when a school is in outbreak?

York Region Public Health is responsible for determining if an outbreak exists, declaring an outbreak and providing direction on outbreak control measures to be implemented. York Region Public Health also assists in determining which class/cohort(s) may be sent home or if a partial or full school closure is required based on the scope of the outbreak.

York Region Public Health works with the school to determine epidemiological links (e.g. cases in the same class, cases that are part of the same before/after school care cohort, cases that have assigned bus seats in close proximity to each other) and determines which cohorts are high-risk contacts requiring isolation.

York Region Public Health will declare an outbreak over based on:

  • At least 14 days from the last outbreak associated case (including in a student, staff, essential visitor, or anyone else in the school during the outbreak)
  • No further symptomatic individuals with tests pending

Things to remember if someone at your child’s school tests positive for COVID-19

  • Parents will be notified
  • Public Health will conduct contact tracing and monitor and notify parents/staff of risk as needed
  • Not all students are at-risk if someone at school tests positive
  • Close contacts will be required to self-isolate for 14 days, monitor for symptoms and get tested
  • A confirmed case of COVID-19 in a school doesn’t necessarily mean there is a risk of transmission. Public health will directly contact anyone who is identified as a close contact of a confirmed COVID-19 case

Parents are encouraged to continually use trusted information sources like York Region Public Health and your school board, to avoid speculation and misinformation.

Please check your child daily for symptoms of COVID-19  and use the COVID-19 school and child care screening tool to determine if your child should  be tested and if they should stay home from school and for how long.

Stay Safe. Stay Informed. Visit 

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