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COVID-19: Screening guidance updated for Ontario students

Two symptoms have also been removed

The COVID-19 screening guidance for Ontario schools has been updated.

The changes announced today include two sets of questions about symptoms and information to help parents decide whether their children should go to school or child care, consult their health care provider, or get tested for the virus. Abdominal pain or pink eye (conjunctivitis) have also been removed from the symptom list for students. The announcement says that move is based on the latest public health guidance.

According to the government, the first set of questions focuses on symptoms such as fever or cough. Anyone with those symptoms is advised to stay home until a health care provider gives an alternate diagnosis, or until they test negative for COVID-19.

The second set of questions focuses on symptoms associated with other illnesses, such as a runny nose or headache. Students with one of the symptoms will be advised to stay home for 24 hours and can return to school if their symptoms improve. Children with two or more symptoms have to say home until consulting with a health care provider and receiving an alternate diagnosis, or test negative for the coronavirus.

"Ensuring that children can attend school with minimal interruption is an important part of their healthy growth and development," said Dr. David Williams, Chief Medical Officer of Health, in a news release. "Based on a review of the current evidence and consulting with paediatric infectious diseases experts, we are updating the list of symptoms in the COVID-19 screening tool for schools and child care to ensure that our children receive the education and care that they need while minimizing the risk of COVID-19 transmission."

The new guidance is available online here. The government says the refreshed online tool launches Friday, Oct. 2.