COVID-19 Advisory School Status
Our COVID-19 Advisory School Status provides the number of active confirmed positive COVID-19 cases associated with our schools.
This list will be updated weekdays by 4:30 p.m.
Important: A positive case at the school does not mean the individual was exposed to COVID-19 at the school. They may have been exposed somewhere else in the community.
MUSKOKA MONTESSORI SCHOOL
OPEN for Casa
CLOSED for Elementary
COVID-19 Policies and Procedures
The Muskoka Montessori School is committed to providing a safe and healthy environment for children, families and staff while remaining faithful to our core Montessori teaching principles and values.
We will protect the safety and well-being of our community by following best practices set out by public health, the Ministry of Education as well as advice and experience from our Montessori community of educators and administrators in Canada and around the world.
We commit to the following:
- Ensuring that all staff members are trained in new health and safety measures;
- Guiding students and families through essential daily practices for a safe return to school;
- Planning and preparing for possible distanced learning during a mandated school closure; and
- Providing a warm, nurturing and inspiring environment in which our children can grow emotionally, socially and intellectually.
Return to School Scenarios:
We envision three possible scenarios for the return to school during the 2020-2021 academic year:
- In-School Learning: Full return of students and teachers to school with physical distancing and new health and safety measures in place.
To ensure the return to school is as safe as possible, we will prepare the environment as follows:
- Redefine classroom spaces to allow for physical distancing;
- Conduct lessons and activities outdoors as much as possible;
- Build in time for health screening, hand-washing, and sanitizing of materials and physical spaces; and
- Keep cohorts together: class cohorts will stay self-contained with separate entrances, washrooms, outdoor work and play areas and indoor classroom space.
- On-Line Learning: Complete distance learning program offered during a mandated lockdown, where no staff or children are in the physical school building.
Our teachers learned a great deal from the mandated school closure in the spring and will be ready to support our students and families if we are required to close during the school year.
We understand that distance learning is challenging, but we will work hard to nurture each child’s development and follow Montessori principles regardless of the setting through the following:
- Designing a comprehensive plan for each level;
- Ensuring a smooth transition to distance learning and taking into account the likelihood of parents’ need to work from home;
- Providing small group, one-on-one and whole class lessons and activities under direct supervision of and guidance from teachers;
- Maintaining a sense of classroom and school community;
- Fostering children’s growing independence and maintaining a balance of freedom and responsibility by combining time for teacher-led lessons and independent student activities each day to limit time in front of screens;
- Continuing to use Zoom and Google Drive; and
- Supporting the skills and knowledge that children will need to return seamlessly to their classrooms.
- At-Home Support: For families whose children are required to isolate at home.
For children who must isolate at home while relatively healthy, teachers will provide weekly work plans, synchronous Zoom lessons when possible, connection to peers and support for parents.
Policy and Procedure Review:
The policies and procedures detailed in this guide will be reviewed and signed off by all staff before commencing employment/volunteer placement, and at any time where a change is made.
All parents/guardians must review this guide and sign-off indicating that they understand and will abide by all school policies.
N.B: This handbook is subject to change as the School receives new information from the Ministry of Education or the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit. Parents will be notified of any significant changes to this document.
Logistics for the School Day
We have isolated three essential considerations that will form the core of our daily practices for a safe return to school. Each comes back to one essential guiding principle:
IN A WORLD WHERE YOU CAN BE ANYTHING, BE KIND
- Daily screening – Because we care about our fellow community members, we would not want to put anyone at risk unnecessarily. This means that no one may come to school sick. To facilitate this, each day we ask that staff and families conduct self-screening at home before coming to school using either the On-Line Assessment Tool from the Ministry of Education or the paper version of the COVID-19 School Screening Tool from the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Education. Upon arrival at school, all children and staff will pass through the screening booth to report on the results of the self-assessment. All visitors will be asked to respond to a series of questions to determine if they present any symptoms of COVID-19 or are at risk of exposure from the virus. If there is a ‘yes’ answer to any of the questions, the individual will not be permitted to enter the school. Any child presenting any symptoms of illness during the school day will be isolated and family members contacted for pick-up.
- Physical Distancing and Masks – Since our friends and teachers are important to us, we will follow new rules such as physical distancing from our fellow community members by 2 metres and wearing masks when indoors and outdoors when distances of 2 metres cannot be maintained. This is so important because we know that the virus can transmit to others when we feel perfectly healthy. All staff will be required to wear medical masks. Students in Grades 1 to 8 must wear cloth masks from home. Staff teaching in the Casa class will also wear a face shield. Staff moving through the building will wear masks and face shields. We will encourage and support children in the Casa class aged 3 and older to wear a cloth mask. Exemptions to wearing masks will be permitted based on medically valid reasons.
- Necessary Hygiene and Sanitizing – Because we are kind, we will wash our hands, use hand sanitizer and sanitize materials and common touch surfaces to minimize the risk that we will become ill or will pass on germs to our friends.
Daily Practices in Detail
The following sections will provide a detailed breakdown of how we will implement the above core principles.
As of September 1, 2020, The Muskoka Montessori School is able to operate with maximum group sizes as set out under the Child Care and Early Years Act, CCEYA, (i.e., licensed age groups prior to the COVID-19 outbreak). Private schools located in Stage 3 regions of the province can reopen (see O.Reg 364/20 under the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020. During the COVID-19 Pandemic, the School will operate with enhanced health and safety measures in place. For additional safety, The Muskoka Montessori School will limit cohort numbers to below Ministry recommended sizes.
Each classroom – or cohort – will have a maximum number of children, plus teachers.
- Casa and Lower Elementary (Age 3-Grade 3) – Will have 16 children or less in the class. This age group will find physical distancing more challenging.
- Upper Elementary and Erdkinder (Grades 4-8) – Will have 20 children or less in the class.
Cohorting refers to the practice of keeping students together in a small group throughout the school day, with limited exposure to multiple teachers or a wide variety of classmates. This practice limits the number of other students with which a single student comes in contact. Cohorting will also facilitate contact tracing should that be necessary.
Each cohort will form a ‘bubble.’ There will be no intermingling between cohorts and no sharing of spaces including hallways, washrooms, recess areas, etc. Each cohort will enter and depart the building using a separate entrance. Upper Elementary will enter and depart the building using the front door. The other classes will enter and depart using the doors that lead directly into their rooms.
Only students and staff will be permitted into the building. Parents will say goodbye outdoors at the completion of the screening process. The only others who will be permitted to enter are support workers for special needs, emergency services and ministry or public health representatives. Parents will remain outdoors for drop-off and pick-up.
- Ministry staff will conduct in-person monitoring and licensing inspections of
the School where necessary.
- Ministry staff will:
- Be screened prior to entering the premises following the protocol
determined by the School (see screening section below);
- Wear a medical mask and eye protection (i.e., face shield); and,
- Follow any other protocols requested by the School;
- Ministry staff will use technology (e.g., telephone, video conferencing) to
complete virtual monitoring and licensing inspections where appropriate.
Staffing and Staff Training:
- Classroom teachers and assistants will work with only one cohort or group of children.
- Enrichment staff will continue to work with Elementary level students in multiple cohorts but will wear PPE including mask and face shield and will practise physical distancing.
- The administration will limit movement between rooms, doing so only when absolutely necessary.
- Supply/replacement staff will be assigned to a specific cohort or group, as much as possible.
- Congregation of staff will be limited to minimize potential for adult-to-adult transmission and to protect class cohorts. Use of common spaces by staff will be limited to before and after school.
- Staff will maintain physical distances, conduct cleaning and sanitizing and will wear masks and eye protection in the Casa room and in all common spaces.
- Each classroom will be led by a Montessori trained teacher and will meet ministry guidelines for student-teacher ratios.
- Staff who are included in ratios will have valid certification in first aid training including infant and child CPR.
- The School will obtain Vulnerable Sector Checks (VSCs) from staff and all individuals who are interacting with children.
- Staff will be certified in allergy and anaphylaxis care through Allergy Aware Canada.
- The School will provide training that is aligned with direction from the SMDHU to all staff members on the health, safety and other operational measures as directed by the Ministry of Education as well as any local health requirements in place before school begins on September 8.
- This will include instruction on how to properly clean the space and equipment, how to safely conduct daily screening and keep daily attendance records, and what to do in the case that someone becomes sick.
Health and Safety Requirements – Working with Local Public Health
The Muskoka Montessori School will follow the advice of the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit (SMDHU) when establishing health and safety protocols.
All health and safety protocols will be consistent with the direction from the local medical officer of health and will include information on how the Muskoka Montessori School will operate during and throughout the recovery phase following the COVID-19 outbreak including:
- Disinfection of the space, materials and equipment;
- How to report illness;
- How physical distancing will be encouraged;
- Rescheduling of group events and/or in-person meetings; and,
- Parent drop-off and pick-up procedures.
Use of Masks and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE):
- All staff will wear medical masks inside classrooms and common spaces. Staff will also wear eye protection (i.e. face shield) while moving through shared spaces. All Casa staff will wear medical masks and eye protection at all times while inside.
- During health screening, which takes place outside, staff will wear a medical mask.
- If a child/staff member develops symptoms while at school, child will wear medical mask. Staff will wear medical masks, re-useable face shields or goggles, gown, and gloves. Clean PPE will be worn between each sick individual.
- In the event that a staff member must clean up bodily fluids with the risk of splashing/soiling clothing, all PPE items will be disposed and clean PPE will be worn.
- All children in Grades 1 to 8 are required to wear a non-medical or cloth mask while inside the school, including in hallways, and while outside when physical distancing of 2 metres cannot be maintained. Children aged 3-6 will be encouraged and supported to wear non-medical or cloth masks as much as possible. Parents/guardians must send three clean masks to school with their child(ren) each day.
- Face shields are not a replacement for cloth masks. Face shields are effective eye protection but do not prevent transmission via respiratory droplets in and out of the mouth.
- Teachers will incorporate masks breaks, such as when eating snack, into the daily routines so that children do not need to wear the mask all day.
- Encouraging mask-wearing with the youngest children and sending masks to school teaches children positive messaging around mask-wearing during the pandemic.
- Parents/guardians are responsible for providing their child(ren) with cloth masks.
- The use of masks is not required outdoors for adults or children if physical distancing of a least 2-metres can be maintained between individuals. As children find it very difficult to maintain physical distancing, they will wear masks for most of the time that they are outside.
- When children are performing heavy physical activity, such as running, they should not wear a mask but instead the teachers will guide children to maintain physical distancing from others.
Types of Masks for Children:
Cloth masks must fit securely to the head with ties or ear loops, maintain their shape after washing and drying, be made of at least two layers of tightly woven material (such as cotton or linen), and be large enough to completely and comfortably cover the nose and mouth without gaping.
- Staff will be trained in proper ways to put on and remove masks safely.
- Teachers will provide lessons to students on how to put on and remove masks safely and how to store them when not in use.
- Parents should send a reusable bag or container for clean masks and a separate one for dirty/worn masks. The container should be washed at home each evening. Alternatively, parents may send masks in a clean new paper bag or plastic zip lock style bag each day.
- Before putting on a mask, staff and children will wash hands or use hand sanitizer.
- When taking off a mask, staff and children will wash hands or use hand sanitizer before and after removing the mask.
With a medically valid reason, students and staff may obtain an exemption from wearing a mask. However, please keep in mind that masks work best when worn by everyone. In order to keep our community safe, we all need to work together. For instance, suffering from allergies or wearing glasses will not exempt someone from wearing a mask. A person who experiences panic attacks while wearing a mask would be considered a medically valid reason.
Drop-Off and Pick-up Procedures:
- The School will ensure that drop-off and pick-up procedures allow for physical distancing and cohorting of children.
- All individuals will be screened each day before entering the school.
- Parents will accompany children through the screening process and to the appropriate school door but will not enter the building. Students in Grade 7/8 may go through the screening process independently.
- Once through the screening process, students in each class will enter and depart the building using a separate door.
- Casa children will enter through the back door.
- Lower Elementary children will enter through the right side door.
- Upper Elementary children will enter through the main front door.
- Erdkinder students will only have access to the portable.
- Staff may use the main door to unlock the side doors but must wear a mask and shield and sanitize hands before and after entering the building then will proceed directly to their appropriate room/area.
- All entrances will have alcohol-based hand rub available.
- Signs and pylons will be posted to direct families through the entry steps.
- Personal belongings (e.g., backpack, clothing, etc.) should be minimized. Belongings should be labeled and kept in the child’s cubby/designated area.
Space Set-Up and Physical Distancing:
- Physical distancing between children will be encouraged in age-appropriate ways.
- For our youngest children in the Casa classroom, the Ministry recognizes that it is difficult to maintain physical distancing and encourages Casa staff to maintain a welcoming and caring environment for children.
- Each group of children will have its own assigned indoor space, outdoor space, entrance and washroom.
- If students or staff need to be in the same common space (e.g., entrances, hallways), physical distancing of at least 2 metres will be maintained between different groups and should be encouraged, where possible, between children within the same group by:
- Spreading children out into different areas, particularly at meal and dressing time;
- Incorporating more individual activities or activities that encourage more space between children; and
- Using visual cues such as a hoola-hoop or floor mat to promote physical distancing.
- Each cohort or group will use a separate outdoor area. In addition, a distance of at least 2 metres will be maintained between cohorts or groups.
- Shared spaces and structures that cannot be cleaned and disinfected between groups will not be used.
- Since physical distancing is difficult with our youngest students (Casa-aged children) additional suggestions include:
- Planning activities that do not involve shared objects or toys;
- When possible, moving activities outside to allow for more space; and
- Avoiding singing activities indoors.
- The School will allocate outdoor spaces by cohorts in order to facilitate physical distancing and each cohort or group will use a separate area for outdoor learning and play.
- Where the outdoor play area is large enough to accommodate multiple groups, the School will separate the groups by at least 2 metres.
- The School will provide designated toys and equipment (e.g., balls, loose equipment) for each cohort or group. Where toys and equipment are shared, they will be cleaned and disinfected prior to being shared.
- Children should bring their own sunscreen to school and it will not be shared.
- Staff may provide assistance to apply sunscreen to any child requiring it and will exercise proper hand hygiene when doing so (for example washing hands before and after application).
Food and Water Provision: Snack and Lunch
- The School will not prepare or provide food to children at school. Full-day students must bring snack and lunch to school. Half-day students must bring a morning snack to school.
- All children must bring a clean water bottle, labeled with the child’s name, to school each day.
- Parents should be sure to provide enough food so that the child will not be hungry during the day. For full-day children, sending an afternoon snack is a good idea.
- Parents should send food in reusable containers labeled with the child’s name so as to minimize waste in our environment. Containers should be sent inside a lunch/snack bag also labeled with the child’s name.
- There will be no sharing of food or utensils at snack or at meal times.
- Students will not prepare or provide food for others.
- Staff and students will practise proper hand hygiene before and after eating.
- Tables will be set up so that children are able to practise physical distancing while eating, especially as masks will be removed while eating.
- Use of clear, plastic screens to divide tables will provide an additional barrier while eating.
- Students should sit before removing mask, stay seated while eating and until mask has been put back on.
Provision of Special Needs Resources (SNR) Services:
- The School recognizes that children with special needs and their families continue to require additional supports and services while at school.
- The provision of in-person special needs services at school will continue where appropriate. Should questions arise with respect to which service providers are permitted to enter the premises, the school will contact with the SMDHU. In addition, the School will work with special needs service providers to explore alternative modes of service delivery where in-person delivery is not possible.
- Where special needs resource services are provided through external staff/service providers, the School will record attendance for contact tracing purposes.
- All special needs resource staff must be screened before entering the School setting, as per the protocol in the screening section above.
- Where special needs resource services are provided through external staff, the School will inform all families of this fact.
Daily Health Screening Policies and Procedures
In order to help reduce the risk of respiratory infections (including COVID-19), health screening is an essential step. This procedure applies to all staff members, children, families, visitors, student teachers, community members and any other persons engaging in business with schools and child care centres. Everyone must be screened prior to entering the School.
Parents/staff must use the Provincial On-line Screening Tool provided by the Ministry of Education or the PDF version of the screening tool. The on-line tool provides direct feedback for families/staff about what to do if anyone in the household develops symptoms or has any other COVID-19 indicator.
As of April 13, 2021, the Ministry of Health has updated the symptoms list and language for school screening. The on-line tool and PDF version have been updated to accommodate these changes.
For staff, children and essential visitors, the screening tool indicates that the child/staff member will be required to isolate and stay home from school if they or any members of their household:
- has travelled outside of Canada in the past 14 days;
- has been told they should currently be isolating;
- has been identified as a close contact of someone who currently has COVID-19 in the past 14 days;
- has received a COVID Alert exposure notification on their cell phone in the last 14 days;
- is experiencing any one new or worsening symptom of COVID-19;
- is waiting for test results after experiencing symptoms.
Staff and children with any one COVID-19 symptom will be required to stay home from school and isolate until:
- They receive a negative COVID-19 test result;
- They receive an alternative diagnosis from a health care professional; or
- It has been 10 days since their symptom onset and they are feeling better.
Ill Members of a Household – If a member of the household of the staff/students/visitors has a new or worsening symptom, all members of the household must isolate until a negative COVID-19 test result is received, the individual receives an alternative diagnosis by a health care professional, or it has been 10 days since the onset of symptoms and they are feeling better. These household contacts of the ill individual may not come to school during this period. If the symptomatic family member tests positive for COVID-19, or is not tested and does not receive an alternative diagnosis from a health care professional, the symptomatic individual must isolate (including from household members) for 10 days from symptom onset, and all household contacts must isolate until 14 days from their last contact with the symptomatic individual.
Health Screening Policies:
- All staff will undergo health screening training. The School will maintain a record of training in the employee’s file.
- The School has identified and set-up the location and staffing of the screening area. Screening will take place outside the main building at the café and by the main parking lot. Each person (staff, child or essential visitor) must be screened before entering the building.
- Screening staff will wear medical masks.
- The School will provide visual guides to assist with physical distancing (e.g. pylons) in the event that a line-up forms while parents and their children are waiting to be screened prior to entering into the School.
- There will be a garbage can available for used gloves, paper towels/disinfectant wipes and masks.
- Signs identifying the screening process will be placed outside the café and outside the main doors to the School building.
- The School will provide a hand sanitizer dispenser at the screening station. We will ensure it is visible to staff/visitors and parents entering the building.
- Individuals who do not pass the screening should contact the school to let them know about the result, stay home/self-isolate, and talk with a doctor/health care provider to get advice or an assessment, including if they need a COVID-19 test.
- The School will ensure the health screening area is disinfected regularly throughout screening process.
- Health screening questions are for the parent/guardian to answer on their and their child’s behalf. Erdkinder children in Grade 7 and 8 may answer the health screening questions themselves. Parents/guardians are not permitted past the health screening line to ensure physical distancing. Only one parent/guardian is permitted into the screening area to promote privacy.
- Staff are not permitted past the health screening line until they have been cleared to enter the School.
- Parents/guardians are not permitted inside the School except in case of an emergency.
Health Screening Procedures:
As mandated by public health and the Ministry of Education, every staff, child and visitor must be screened prior to being admitted into the School. Staff will follow the screening checklist for each person and record the outcome (pass or fail).
- Staff must complete hand hygiene (hand washing or hand sanitizing), then put on a medical mask.
- Staff will ask the screening questions.
- Families must wait in line until called forward by a staff member.
- Staff will ensure the privacy of each family by maintaining space between other people waiting and the family going through the screening process.
- Staff will record the results of the screening for the purposes of contact tracing.
- All staff members and parents/guardians will be asked to show that they have passed the health screening by providing a printed version of the completed PDF screening questions or by showing the green checkmark that is displayed when the individual passes the screening using on-line provincial screening tool.
- For those children/families/visitors/staff members who forgot to self-screen, they will be asked the following questions and must answer no to all of the questions in order to have passed the screening:
- In the last 14 days have you/your child or anyone you live with travelled outside of Canada?
- Has a doctor, health care provider, or public health unit told you/your child that you should currently be isolating (staying at home)?
- In the last 14 days, has you/your child been identified as a “close contact” of someone who currently has COVID-19?
- In the last 14 days, have you/your child received a COVID Alert exposure notification on your/their cell phone?
- Are you/they currently experiencing any of these symptoms? (Choose any/all that are new, worsening, and not related to other known causes or conditions they already have.)
- Fever and/or chills (Temperature of 37.8 degrees Celsius/100 degrees Fahrenheit or higher)
- Cough or barking cough (croup) (Continuous, more than usual, making a whistling noise when breathing – not related to asthma, post-infectious reactive airways, or other known causes or conditions you/they already have)
- Shortness of breath (Out of breath, unable to breathe deeply – not related to asthma or other known causes or conditions you/they already have)
- Decrease or loss of taste or smell (Not related to seasonal allergies, neurological disorders, or other known causes or conditions you/they already have)
- Sore throat (Not related to seasonal allergies, acid reflux, or other known causes or conditions you/they already have)
- Difficulty swallowing (Painful swallowing – not related to other known causes or conditions you/they already have)
- Runny or stuffy/congested nose (Not related to seasonal allergies, being outside in cold weather, or other known causes or conditions you/they already have)
- (For Staff/Visitors) Pink eye (Conjunctivatis – not related to recurring styles or other known causes or conditions you/they already have)
- Headache (Unusual, long-lasting – not related to tension-type headaches, chronic migraines, or other known causes or conditions you/they already have)
- Digestive Issues like nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or stomach pain (Not related to irritable bowel syndrome, anxiety, menstrual cramps, or other known causes or conditions you/ they already have)
- Muscle aches (Unusual, long-lasting – not related to a sudden injury, fibromyalgia, or other known causes or conditions you/they already have)
- Extreme tiredness or muscle aches (Unusual, fatigue, lack of energy – not related to depression, insomnia, thyroid dysfunction or other known causes or conditions you/they already have)
- (For Staff/Visitors) Falling Down often (For older people)
- None of the above
- Is anyone you/they live with currently experiencing any new COVID-19 symptoms and/or waiting for test results after experiencing symptoms?
If yes to any of the above symptoms/questions, staff/your child should stay home to isolate immediately. Contact your health care provider for further advice or assessment, including if you/your child needs a COVID-19 test or other treatment.
If you answered yes to any of the questions individuals should contact the school to let them know, stay home to self isolate immediately for 10 days except for a medical emergency and follow the advice of public health. Individual should talk with a doctor/ health care professional to get advice or an assessment, including if he/she needs a COVID-19 test.
If an individual tests positive for COVID-19, Individual may only return to school after he/she has been cleared by the local public health unit.
If the individual answers NO to all screening questions, he/she has passed the screening and can enter the School building.
If the individual answers YES to any of the screening questions or refuses to answer, he/she has failed the screening and cannot enter the building.
The family/individual will be asked to review the self-assessment tool on the Ministry of Health website or the SMDHU website to determine if further care is required. They are encouraged to follow up with their family health physician or nurse practitioner and can go for COVID-19 testing. In Huntsville, the testing centre is located in the Active Living Centre at 20 Park Dr. Testing is by appointment only and the centre is open from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm Monday, Wednesday and Friday. See simcoemuskoka.org for further information about testing and testing centres.
Staff will wear PPE while ensuring that any surfaces the individual has touched are disinfected immediately.
This policy and procedure will be reviewed and signed off by all employees and families prior to commencing employment or placement at the School, and at any time where a change is made.
Documentation of Screening:
Documentation of the information received during active screening will be recorded on the School’s COVID-19 Daily Screening Form. The School will ensure that all information collected during the screening process will be stored in a secure location to protect the privacy of all individuals. The School will report information to the Health Unit and the Ministry of Education as required.
Exclusion Policy and Procedures:
As required by the Child Care and Early Years Act (CCEYA) and the Ministry of Education, we must separate or exclude staff/children of ill health and contact parents/guardians to take the child home. When children are ill and/or exhibit COVID-19 related symptoms, staff will ensure the following:
- Ill children will be separated from all other children to the designated exclusion area, and will be supervised and monitored by staff until they are picked up from care by a parent/guardian.
- Each classroom will maintain a PPE kit specifically for managing students/staff/others who become ill during school hours.
- Symptoms of illness will be recorded in the child’s daily record and in a daily log as per the CCEYA and the Ministry of Education.
- The parent/guardian of the ill child will be notified of the child’s symptoms and of the need to pick the child up immediately; or
- If it appears that the child requires immediate medical attention, the child will be taken to the hospital by ambulance.
- If necessary, the administration will notify public health and their advice will be followed.
- If necessary, the School will file a Serious Occurrence notification with the Ministry of Education if the child receives a positive COVID-19 diagnosis.
When to Exclude:
Public health mandates that staff should exclude a sick child when the child has any signs and/or symptoms that are greater than normal, or if the child is unable to participate in regular programming because of illness.
The administration will report confirmed cases of COVID-19 to the health unit and to the Ministry of Education. For the health unit, the administration will complete the COVID-19 Childcare/School Reporting Form for ill children/staff and will fax it to the Simcoe-Muskoka District Health Unit (705-733-7738). For Casa children, the administration will report to the Ministry of Education using the Child Care Licensing Site. For school-aged children, Grades 1-8, the administration will report confirmed cases of COVID-19 to the Ministry of Education using the ONSIS on-line reporting tool.
- Symptoms to look for include but are not limited to: fever, new or worsening cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, runny nose, nasal congestion, headache, digestive issues, muscle aches, tiredness, and a general feeling of being unwell.
- Children in particular should be monitored for atypical symptoms and signs of COVID-19. For more information, please see the symptoms outlined in the ‘COVID-19 Reference Document for Symptoms’ on the Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 website.
How To Exclude:
- If a child or staff member develops symptoms while in the classroom, all children in the room who are over 3 years old and are amenable to wearing a mask will be provided one until the ill child leaves the room and ventilation in the room will be increased by opening windows.
- The child will wait in a designated area in the School with a staff member. If a separate room is not available, the person who is symptomatic will be kept at a minimum of 2 metres from others.
- Staff members caring for the child will perform hand hygiene and put on a face shield and gown.
- Staff will avoid contact with the child’s respiratory secretions. The ill child will be provided with tissues and reminded of hand hygiene, respiratory etiquette, and proper disposal of tissues.
- Staff will notify parents/caregivers of the sick child for pick-up.
- Only one staff will be in the designated exclusion room and will attempt physical distancing. If physical distancing cannot be practised, staff will wear a mask and gloves. Staff will perform hand hygiene and attempt not to touch their face with unwashed hands.
- If the child is above 3 years old, he/she will be encouraged to wear a medical mask.
- Staff will increase ventilation in the designated exclusion room by opening windows.
- Staff will clean and disinfect the exclusion room and the ill child’s classroom as soon as possible after the child has been sent home.
- If a positive COVID-19 diagnosis is received, the SMDHU will conduct contact tracing and will advise the School of appropriate steps.
- All items used by the ill person should be cleaned and disinfected by the cleaning staff designated for that cohort.
- Any items that cannot be cleaned (paper, books, cardboard puzzles) should be removed and stored in a sealed container for a minimum of 7 days.
- Other children, including siblings of the symptomatic child, and staff members in the program who were present while the child or staff member became ill will be identified as a close contact and grouped together. The SMDHU will provide any further direction on testing and isolation of these close contacts. In most instances testing and isolation would only be recommended for contacts of a confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis.
- The School will advise the ill individual/parent/guardian to seek medical advice, including the recommendation of testing for COVID-19 as appropriate or as recommended by their medial practitioner.
Ensuring that all environmental conditions are constantly monitored is essential in prevention and reducing illness. For this reason, families and staff members must self-screen before coming to school each day and report on the results before entering the building. The School will screen all visitors before entering the building. In addition, administration will monitor for an increase in above normal amount of illnesses among staff members and children by looking at the normal occurrence of illness at that location and during the specific time period.
To ensure increased surveillance, staff will perform the following:
- Observe children for illness upon arrival.
- Record symptoms of illness for each child including signs or complaints the child may describe (e.g., sore throat, digestive issues, headache etc.).
- Immediately put exclusion policy and procedures into place.
- Record the date and time that the symptoms occur.
- Record the room the child attends (e.g., room number/description).
- Record attendances and absences.
Communication with Parents/Guardians:
- If a child begins to show signs of illness, the parents/guardians will be notified immediately by phone by the administrative staff. The time, date and symptoms will be documented by classroom teachers and kept for future reference if needed on the Illness Tracking form.
- Parents are required to provide current phone numbers to the Muskoka Montessori School and keep them updated at all times, as well as all other emergency contact phone numbers necessary. If a parent/guardian cannot be reached, the emergency contacts will be called. Parents/guardians will need to make arrangements to pick up their child as soon as possible.
- The Muskoka Montessori School will follow all direction from the SMDHU with regard to when and how to communicate information about a communicable disease and/or outbreak to parents/guardians and staff.
- The Muskoka Montessori School is committed to providing information in a reasonable, timely, respectful manner to all parents/guardians and staff about communicable diseases or outbreaks. This will include but is not limited to emails, phone calls, posted signs on doors/walls of the School, etc.
- The School has created a COVID-19 advisory section on the website which contains information about confirmed cases of COVID-19 as well as the parent handbook with all enhanced policies and procedures for the School during the pandemic. The Website will be updated daily by 4:30 pm with any cases and regularly with new policy changes.
Returning from Illness:
Staff/children/visitors who are being managed by Public Health (e.g., confirmed cases of COVID-19, household contacts of cases) should follow instructions from public health to determine when to return to school.
Children who have had only 1 COVID-19 symptom (such as runny nose, fever, cough, shortness of breath, loss of taste or smell) must contact a health care provider to determine if testing is required. With these symptoms testing is generally recommended. Children may return to school with approval from a health care provider, or with a negative test result and if it has been 24 hours since symptoms have started to improve, or after 10 days and if it has been 24 hours since symptoms have started to improve.
If there has been a close contact exposure with a confirmed case of COVID-19, the isolation period is 14 days.
With a positive test result: The ill child/staff/visitor who test positive for COVID-19 must be excluded from the School for at least 14 days after the onset of symptoms and clearance has been received from the local public health unit. The health unit will conduct case and contact management and will provide guidance on when individuals can return to school.
Testing and Outbreak Management:
- Symptomatic staff and children will be referred for testing. Testing of asymptomatic persons should only be performed as directed by the SMDHU as part of outbreak management. A list of symptoms, including atypical signs and symptoms, can be also be found in the ‘COVID-19 Reference Document for Symptoms’ on the Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 website.
- Those who test negative for COVID-19 must be excluded until 24 hours after symptom resolution.
- Those who test positive for COVID-19 must be excluded from the Muskoka Montessori School for at least 14 days after the onset of symptoms and clearance has been received from the SMDHU or their health care provider.
- An outbreak in a school is defined as two or more lab-confirmed COVID-19 cases in students/staff in a school with an epidemiological link, within a 14-day period, where at least one case could have reasonably acquired their infection at the school. The health unit will work with the School to determine epidemiological links (i.e. cases in the same class) and will determine which cohorts are high risk contacts requiring isolation. The health unit is responsible for determining if an outbreak exists, declaring an outbreak, and providing direction on outbreak control measures. The health unit will assist in determining which cohorts may be sent home or if a partial or full school closure is required. (There may be variability in scenarios based on local context and epidemiology.)
- Where the health unit determines there was a transmission risk to others in the School, students and staff will be assessed to determine if they were at high risk of exposure (requiring isolation) or if they were at low risk of exposure (can self-monitor for symptoms and return to school).
- Classroom cohorts (students and staff affiliated with the cohort) will generally be considered at high risk of exposure.
- All students and staff determined to be at high risk of exposure will be directed to isolate and will be recommended for testing (voluntary) within their isolation period.
- Negative test results do not change the requirement for isolation nor do they shorten the isolation period for close contacts.
The School has a duty to report all confirmed cases of COVID-19 to the local Medical Officer of Health under the Health Protection and Promotion Act and to the Ministry of Education.
- The School will contact the SMDHU to report a confirmed case of COVID-19 among the staff or students. The public health unit will provide specific advice on what control measures should be implemented to prevent the potential spread and how to monitor for other possible infected staff members and children.
- The Muskoka Montessori School will respect the confidentiality of any staff member or student who experiences COVID-19 symptoms and/or tests positive for COVID-19.
- Reportable diseases (diseases of public health significance including COVID-19) will be reported immediately by an administrative staff member to the Simcoe-Muskoka District Health Unit. The School (705) 684-9090 x7032 or 1-877-721-7520 x8809 or Telehealth 1-866-797-0000 (24 hours, 7 days a week). The SMDHU will investigate and confirm these reports prior to any communications to parents or staff.
- The School will report all confirmed cases of COVID-19 to the Ministry of Education. For the Casa class, the administration will file Serious Occurrence report. For the Elementary school, the administration will report confirmed cases using the on-line COVID-19 reporting tool with the Ministry of Education.
Serious Occurrence Reporting:
- Any confirmed case of COVID-19 within the Casa class is deemed a Serious Occurrence and will be reported to the Ministry of Education.
- Where the Casa class or school closes due to COVID-19, the School will report this to the ministry as a Serious Occurrence as an ‘Unplanned Disruption of Service’.
- The School is required to post the Serious Occurrence notification form as required under the CCEYA, unless the local public health unit advises otherwise.
- The School will maintain daily records of anyone (children/staff/visitors) entering the building and the approximate length of their stay (such as cleaners, people doing maintenance work, people providing support for children with special needs, etc.).
- The School will keep these records readily available to be provided to public health for contact tracing purposes.
- There will be no non-essential visitors permitted in the School.
- Students teachers completing post-secondary educational placements will be permitted to enter the School, will only attend at our location and will be assigned to one cohort of children.
- Students teachers will be subject to the same health and safety protocols as staff members such as screening, and the use of PPE when at school, and must review and be familiar with the health and safety protocols.
- The provision of special needs services will continue and the School will use its discretion to determine whether the services being provided are essential and necessary at this time.
- The use of video and telephone interviews will be used to interact with families, other than meetings held outside, rather than in person.
- Ministry staff and other public officials (e.g. fire marshal, public health inspectors) will be permitted to enter and inspect the School at any reasonable time.
- Parents will not be permitted inside the building, except in case of an emergency.
Hand Hygiene is a general term referring to any action of hand cleaning. Hand hygiene relates to the removal of visible soil and removal or killing of transient microorganisms from the hands. Hand hygiene may be accomplished using soap and running water or a hand sanitizer (70-90% alcohol based). Hand washing with soap and running water must be performed when hands are visibly soiled.
Staff will be trained on proper hand hygiene techniques and protocols.
Staff will teach students that hands carry and spread pathogens. Touching eyes, nose, mouth or sneezing or coughing into hands may provide an opportunity for pathogens to spread. Keeping hands clean through good hygiene practice is one of the most important steps to avoid getting sick and spreading germs.
Staff will perform and promote frequent, proper hand hygiene (including supervising or assisting students with hand hygiene). Hand washing using soap and water is recommended over alcohol-based hand rub for children.
Staff and students will wash hands:
- When hands are visibly dirty;
- Before putting on a mask;
- Before and after removing the mask;
- And before and after:
- Preparing, handling, serving and eating food,
- Handling animals,
- Touching a cut or open sore,
- Glove use,
- Before and after giving medication,
- Sensory play activity (i.e. playdough use),
- Sneezing, coughing, or nose-blowing,
- Entering/using the washroom,
- Handling garbage,
- Handling raw foods,
- Outdoor play,
- Handling soiled laundry or dishes,
- Handling soiled materials or other items,
- Coming into contact with bodily fluids,
- Coming into contact with any soiled/mouthed items,
Hand Hygiene Procedures:
Each sink and hand sanitizer station will display information about proper hand hygiene procedures.
When hands are visibly soiled, staff and students will follow these steps for cleaning hands:
- Wet hands.
- Apply soap.
- Lather for at least 15 seconds. Rub between fingers, back of hands, fingertips, under nails.
- Rinse well under running water.
- Dry hands well with paper towel or hot air blower.
- Turn taps off with paper towel, if available.
When hands are not visibly soiled, staff and students will follow these steps for cleaning hands:
- Apply hand sanitizer (70-90% alcohol-based).
- Rub hands together for at least 15 seconds.
- Work sanitizer between fingers, back of hands, fingertips, and under nails.
- Rub hands until dry.
Hand Hygiene Monitoring:
To ensure that children are using proper hand hygiene methods, teachers will review hand hygiene practices on a regular basis.
When hands are not visibly dirty, a 70-90% alcohol based hand sanitizer can be used. Hand sanitizers can only be used on children who are over the age of two and must always be used under adult supervision. Adults must ensure that the product has completely evaporated from the child’s hands before allowing the child to continue their activity. Parents may supply their own sanitizer for the child or permit them to use the school’s provided one.
Staff will wear gloves when it is anticipated that hands will come into contact with mucous membranes, broken skin, tissue, blood, bodily fluids, secretions, excretions, contaminated equipment or environmental surfaces. Nitrile gloves are single use only.
Staff will practice hand hygiene before applying and after removing gloves. Gloves will be removed and discarded after each use.
Pathogens, such as COVID-19, influenza and cold viruses, are spread in the fluid droplets when coughing and/or sneezing. When someone coughs or sneezes on their hands, the hands carry and spread these pathogens.
Staff will teach students to keep a distance (preferably more than 2 metres/6 feet) from people who are coughing or sneezing.
Staff and students will follow these steps to stop the spread of pathogens:
- Use a tissue to cover mouth and nose when coughing, sneezing or nose blowing.
- Put used tissues in the garbage.
- When no tissue is available, to cough or sneeze into an elbow/sleeve, not hands.
- Clean hands with soap and water or hand sanitizer (70-90% alcohol-based) regularly and after using a tissue.
Enhanced Environmental Cleaning and Disinfecting Policy and Procedures
Cleaning removes pathogens, dirt, and impurities from surfaces or objects. Cleaning works by using soap (or detergent) and water to physically remove foreign material (i.e. dust, soil) and organic material (i.e. blood, secretions, microorganisms) from surfaces. This process does not necessarily kill pathogens, but by removing them, it lowers their numbers and the risk of spreading infection.
Disinfecting kills pathogens on surfaces or objects. Disinfecting works by using chemicals to kill pathogens on surfaces or objects. This process does not necessarily clean dirty surfaces or remove germs, but by killing pathogens on a surface after cleaning, it can further lower the risk of spreading infection. In order to be effective disinfectants must be left on a surface for a period of time (contact time). Contact times are generally prescribed by the product manufacturer. Any items with which children may have come into contact, may require a final rinse after the required contact time is observed.
Sanitizing lowers the number of pathogens on surfaces or objects to a safe level, as judged by public health standards or requirements. This process works by either cleaning or disinfecting surfaces or objects to lower the risk of spreading infection.
Cleaning Policies and Procedures:
Frequently touched surfaces will be cleaned and disinfected at least twice a day (during mid-day recess and after school) as they are most likely to become contaminated (for example, doorknobs, light switches, toilet and faucet handles, electronic devices, and tabletops).
All products including cleaning agents and disinfectants will be kept in a secured location that is out of reach of children. All cleaning agents and disinfectants must be labelled, and must have Safety Data Sheets (SDS) up to date (within three years).
The School will maintain an inventory of all cleaning, disinfecting and PPE supplies.
Cleaning and disinfecting routines will be increased as the risk of environmental contamination is higher.
Staff will follow the following procedures when cleaning:
- Use detergent and warm water to clean visibly soiled surfaces
- Rinse the surface with clean water (warm to tepid temperature preferred) to ensure detergent is removed. Let the surface dry
- Following Health Canada guidelines, a sanitizing solution using 250 ml of water (1 cup) to 5 mL of bleach (1 tsp.) is an acceptable sanitary solution. This should be used for surfaces where food will be consumed. Staff will check the solution strength with test strips. Contact time is 10 minutes.
- When using ES 15 to sanitize, staff will wet the surface using a spray bottle. Leave for 5 minutes. Allow to air dry. No rinsing or wiping is required, unless used on a surface where food will be consumed. For heavily soiled surfaces pre-cleaning is required.
For general environmental disinfection of high touch surfaces staff will use the ES 15 in the red spray bottles – the contact time for disinfecting is 5 minutes.
Staff will follow the following disinfecting procedures in classrooms:
How to Disinfect:
- Staff will use rubber gloves, and a mask can be used if the staff has scent sensitivities.
- Staff will spray on the ES15 solution (5 minutes) or the bleach solution (10 minutes) and leave on the surface for the appropriate disinfecting contact time. Once the contact time has elapsed, the surface has now been disinfected.
- Any surface that food or children may come in contact with requires a final water rinse with a single-use paper towel (i.e. counters, trolleys, sinks).
- If the surface continues to be wet, staff will wipe it dry with a single-use paper towel.
What to clean:
- Student tables/place mats will be cleaned and disinfected before and after eating (both snack and lunch).
- Spills will be cleaned and disinfected immediately.
- High touch surfaces: these are surfaces that have frequent contact with hands, food, and other objects. These surfaces will be sanitized at least twice per day and as often as necessary (i.e., when visibly contaminated).
- Counter tops
- Door handles
- Light switches
- Toilet and faucet handles
- Electronic devices (disinfected with 70% alcohol wipes after each use)
Classroom Material Disinfecting Procedures:
The disinfection of classroom materials is vital to ensuring the health and safety of children as it reduces and mitigates the potential spread of pathogens and viruses among children and those who may come into contact with them.
All materials, mats and furniture that are plush will be removed from the classrooms and personal items of that nature will not be allowed at the School. These include stuffed animals, hand puppets, cloth toys, etc. In addition, all sensory play, including playdough must be single-use only, not shared between children and disposed of at the end of the day. All porous materials that cannot be effectively cleaned and disinfected will be removed and not used.
Manual Classroom Material Cleaning and Disinfection:
- Staff will inspect all materials to ensure there are no broken parts or jagged edges.
- Wipe with clean water.
- Air dry or dry with paper towels.
- Disinfect by spraying ES15 solution on the material and let sit for 5 minutes, then air dry.
- Items that can handle high-heat disinfection will be sanitized in the dishwasher.
- Classroom materials that have become visibly dirty or that have come into contact with body fluids (e.g., items that have been put in the mouth) will be taken out of circulation immediately and cleaned and disinfected. Materials that cannot be cleaned and disinfected immediately will be placed in a designated dirty material bin/shelf. The bin will be clearly labelled and inaccessible to children.
Frequency of Classroom Material Cleaning Schedules:
- Classroom material cleanings schedules will be posted in each area and updated daily by the staff person responsible for the area.
- Classroom materials, including high touch items, will be cleaned and disinfected at least two times per day (during recess and at the end of the day) and as often as necessary i.e. when items are visibly soiled or when items have been contaminated with body fluids.
- Items such as electronic devices will be cleaned and disinfected between users prior to redistributing with 70% alcohol wipes. Electronic devices such as computers and tablets will only be used by students in Grades 4-8.
Equipment and Classroom Material Usage and Restrictions:
- The School will provide classroom materials and equipment that are made of substances that can be cleaned and disinfected (e.g., avoid plush toys and fabric in classroom materials). Other materials will be removed from the classroom during the pandemic.
- Mouthed materials will be cleaned and disinfected immediately and children will be reminded not to put items in their mouths.
- The School will provide designated materials and equipment for each cohort or group of children.
- Sensory materials (e.g., playdough, water, sand, etc.) will be provided for single use (i.e. available to the child for the day) and labelled with child’s name, if applicable.
Frequently Asked Questions
- A child or staff can experience mild cold symptoms (i.e. fever, runny nose, etc.). When does it become a suspected case of COVID?
- According to Public Health, children and staff who have even one symptom of COVID-19 should stay home from school (self-isolate) and seek medical advice to determine if testing is recommended.
- However, if the individual has seasonal allergies, they are permitted to attend. We will continue to monitor the situation and adapt our exclusion policy in line with Public Health guidelines.
- Are children with constantly runny noses permitted to attend? According to guidelines from Public Health, we will be excluding children/staff that exhibit one or more of the COVID-19 symptoms, unless the symptoms are due to seasonal allergies or there is an alternative diagnosis. Children that have a negative COVID-19 test and continue to experience these symptoms, will be dealt with on a case by case basis in consultation with the parent/guardian, public health and family physician if applicable.
- Can parents fill out a screening form with the questions at home and bring it in or do the questions need to be asked by the screener at the time of drop off? Parents/staff should use the self-screening tools at home and then must accompany their child through the screening booth upon arrival to report on the results.
- If a child or staff present one of the symptoms, do they have to self isolate for 2 weeks or can they return when the symptoms go away? Testing will be recommended for children with symptoms in consultation with their health professional if the symptom(s) last for more than 24 hours. Exclusion time frame will be based on the results of the test. Direction will be provided by Public Health. Children/staff who test negative for COVID-19 must be excluded until 24 hours after symptom resolution. ii. Children/staff who test positive for COVID-19 must be excluded from school for at least 14 days after the onset of symptoms and clearance has been received from the local public health unit.
- If a parent works within healthcare with the potential of being exposed or in contact with a positive COVID-19 patient, will they be excluded? Public Health guidelines state that only those who have had close unprotected contact with a COVID-19 positive individual will be excluded. If a parent working in a healthcare setting has had contact with a COVID-19 patient and used appropriate PPE, the child will not be excluded. Public Health will notify families and the School of any necessary exclusions through contact tracing.
- Does the screening checklist need to be signed by the parents or simply documented in the School’s daily screening log? Parent signature is not required. A staff member completing a daily screening log is sufficient.
- If a child is showing symptoms of COVID-19 is it mandatory for a parent to be tested? If they choose not to what is the protocol? How long should the child be excluded from school before returning?It is not mandatory for children or parents to be tested for COVID-19. However, Public Health guidelines state that ill children/staff, if not tested, must be excluded for 10 days from onset of their symptoms or 14 days if they have had a high-risk exposure.
- What happens if there is an outbreak or if one child or member of the child’s household has COVID-19? Will the whole school shut down and do all the children and families need to be tested for COVID-19?According to Public Health Guidelines:
- Management of a Single Case in a Child/Staff: Public Health will be responsible for declaring an outbreak. A single positive case in a child/staff in one of the cohorts may result in an outbreak being declared at the School. In consultation with Public Health, the members of the cohort may be excluded from the School for 14 days and may be referred for testing.
- Management of Cases in Multiple Cohorts: Public Health will be responsible for determining if the School should close. If there are additional positive cases in other cohorts with an epidemiological link, Public Health may direct the School to close. In consultation with Public Health, all staff and children in the School may be referred for testing. Public Health will determine when the outbreak is over and when children/staff will be permitted to return to the School.
- Are families responsible for paying school fees if the child is excluded due to potential COVID-19 symptoms? According to Ministry guidelines, the School’s regular sick policies will apply and the school will continue to collect fees.
- Who is responsible for paying school fees if an entire classroom or the School is shut down as a result of a positive COVID-19 case? If an outbreak is declared, and the School is shut down, we will move to our on-line, home-based learning plan outlined at the beginning of this document. We will continue to support children and families. Fees will continue to apply unless we are able to access government funding which the School will pass on to families.
- What if I enroll my child(ren) but decide to withdraw them due to concerns over COVID-19? When withdrawing mid-year, the School’s policy of non-refund of fees will apply.
- Is approval by the Ministry of Education required prior to reopening? Yes, the School must submit an attestation to the Ministry of Education two days prior to reopening. The School must also submit the new parent handbook for review that includes new policies and procedures necessary during the pandemic.