The Regional Municipality Of York

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York Region Public Health's role in re-opening of schools

Little girl with mask and backpack ready for school

Schools across York Region are re-opening soon and many families are looking for information about what school will look like this year. As school boards and private schools announce their re-opening plans, it is clear school will look different this year with specific health and safety measures in place as guided by the Ministry of Education’s Guide to re-opening Ontario’s schools.

Providing guidance and expertise

York Region Public Health is committed to supporting the safe re-opening of schools for the 2020-2021 school year and ensuring re-opening plans are implemented in the safest way possible. Throughout the pandemic, and even more so during this re-opening of schools phase, school boards and private schools in York Region have been consulting with York Region Public Health for expertise and guidance on ways to limit the transmission of COVID-19 in school settings.

There are several strategies to keep schools healthy and safe for students and staff. These include: self-screening for students (by parents), proper hand hygiene, masking and adapted school environments such as cohorting, distancing and limiting visitors in schools. Relationships between schools and local public health units will continue to be crucial to navigate the complex and evolving COVID-19 environment, planning and re-opening schools and addressing other child health issues that emerge.

York Region Public Health’s role in the safe re-opening of schools:

  • Support school boards in their re-opening plans
  • Provide public health information and support implementing provincial standards and guidance
  • Facilitate knowledge exchange with the school community
  • Provide infection prevention and control advice to schools (in-school and transportation)
  • Manage COVID-19 cases and outbreaks
  • Support testing and surveillance of the school population 
  • Provide ongoing support through a dedicated public health School Nurse who will be assigned to an area of schools and can assist in responding to school specific inquiries and make regular visits to the schools 

Keeping community transmission low

Thanks to our residents’ efforts, York Region currently has a lower incidence of COVID-19, which means the risk of acquiring COVID-19 in the community has reduced greatly and as a result, schools can safely re-open.

While we are seeing lower rates of COVID-19 transmission in our community, it doesn’t mean COVID-19 has gone away. We must remain vigilant to keep community transmission as low as possible as this is key in preventing the virus entering our schools. It’s important for everyone to continue following public health guidelines of practicing physical distancing, proper hand hygiene, good respiratory etiquette, wearing face coverings or masks and staying home when sick.

Staying safe at school

Everyone has a role to play to support a safer return to school this September. Please visit for:

  • Information about how to prepare your child for learning this fall and parent’s role in keeping schools safe, York Region Public Health’s role in the safe-re-opening of schools, School Boards’ roles and outbreak management
  • Resources including fact sheets, signage and websites

Parents are encouraged to complete this self-assessment daily before sending their child to school and talk to their elementary and high school children on how school will look and feel different this year.

Public Health and Schools

Public Health has a longstanding partnership with Public, Catholic, and French school boards as well as private and independent schools in York Region. For example, Public Health and schools have been working together on communicable and infectious diseases in school settings for many years, including contact tracing and case management during norovirus outbreaks, pertussis (whooping cough), measles investigations and immunization clinics.

Since the pandemic began, York Region Public Health played an active role in managing long-term care homes and workplace outbreaks, including supporting prevention and control observations and training. This experience is extremely beneficial particularly for managing potential outbreaks in school. York Region Public Health will continue to work closely with schools in monitoring, managing and controlling any COVID-19 outbreaks or cases in schools and respond quickly to contain the virus.

Stay safe. Stay informed. Visit

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