‘It's everyone's responsibility to screen themselves or their child for symptoms before going to school’
Ontario has launched a new voluntary interactive screening tool to assist parents, students and staff with the daily assessment of COVID-19 symptoms and risk factors that is required before attending school.
The results will let parents, students and education staff know whether they should attend school each day or guide at-risk individuals to proper resources, according to the government.
“We are doing everything we can to keep students and staff safe, and that includes this new screening tool which will help people protect themselves and others from COVID-19,” said Premier Doug Ford. “It's everyone's responsibility to screen themselves or their child for symptoms before going to school. If you're sick or someone in your household is sick, even with mild symptoms, please stay home.”
Developed in-house by the Ontario Digital Service, the tool is voluntary and available for all parents, students and staff to use to help screen for symptoms of illness every day. Users will simply respond to clinician-informed symptoms and risk questions, and the tool will then immediately inform users whether it is safe to attend school that day.
“Happy to hear about the new #UniversalScreeningTool, an easy addition to the morning routine of students, and another layer of safety that’ll help keep schools the safe and positive spaces to learn,” said Daisy Wai, member of the standing committee on general government and parliamentary assistant to the minister for seniors and accessibility, about the new tool in a Facebook post.
Ontario has also previously announced several projects to ensure the safety of school staff and students amid COVID-19. The province:
- launched other tools, like Ontario’s self-assessment tool, which helps people check whether they have symptoms of COVID-19, and the COVID Alert app, which lets people know if they’ve been exposed to COVID-19 – and alert others if they test positive.
- unveiled of the nation's most comprehensive plan for the safe reopening of schools in September.
- established a mandatory masking policy for grades 4-12, and a robust surveillance and testing strategy to ensure a successful return to classrooms.
- filled over 530 nursing positions, or 85 per cent, of the additional 625 nursing positions created to help keep students and staff safe.
- launched a webpage to report COVID-19 cases in schools and child care centres.
- released the Operational Guidance: COVID-19 Management in Schools document.
“As students across the province return to school, it's more important than ever that we provide families with the tools and information they need to stay safe and healthy,” said Peter Bethlenfalvy, president of the treasury board for education. “Throughout the pandemic, our government has worked swiftly to leverage technology and innovation that puts vital programs and services at your fingertips. This tool is another example of how we're building a government that works for you.”
Recently, the federal government invested $763.34 million in support for Ontario through the Safe Return to Class Fund to provide the funding they need as they work alongside local school boards to ensure the safety of students and staff members throughout the school year.
Meanwhile, Unifor school bus driver members called on the Ontario government to implement standardized COVID-19 safety protocols to protect both themselves and the students on board.