The province has published its new COVID-19 symptom quiz that children and youth must take each day before attending daycare or school.
A runny nose, sore throat or headache alone won’t be enough to require a child to stay home and isolate for days.
They will have to stay home until they feel better, though, and 24 hours have passed since the symptoms began.
The screening quiz was revised to be more sensitive to the symptoms that are most likely with COVID-19 caused by the Omicron variant that is fuelling a spike of cases across the province.
Various versions of the quiz have been in use since the 2020-21 school year. The purpose is to help screen out children with COVID-19 from attending school.
The latest quiz divides symptoms into two categories. Children who have one of the symptoms most commonly associated with COVID-19 must stay home and isolate for either five or 10 days, depending on their vaccination status and age. Anyone who lives with them must isolate too.
After isolating, those children and youth can go back to school or daycare when their symptoms have been improving for at least 24 hours (or 48 hours for nausea, vomiting and/or diarrhea).
The major symptom list: decrease or loss of sense of taste or smell; shortness of breath; cough or barking cough; and fever and chills.
For the other set of symptoms less commonly associated with COVID-19, a child must have two before being advised to isolate for five or 10 days. Those symptoms are: runny or stuffy nose; extreme tiredness; muscle aches or joint pain; sore throat; headache; and nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
However, children who have either one major symptom or two minor symptoms can end their isolation early if they have a negative PCR (laboratory-based) test or two negative rapid antigen tests taken 24 to 48 hours apart. In that case, they can return to school as long as their symptoms have been improving for at least 24 hours (or 48 hours for nausea, vomiting and/or diarrhea).
And children who have just one of the minor symptoms? They must stay home until the symptom is improving for 24 hours. The people who live with them do not need to self-isolate.
Daycares remain open in Ontario, but elementary and secondary schools have been closed to in-person classes until at least Jan. 17. Students were shifted to online learning at home after the holiday break in response to the surge of COVID-19 cases.