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The Province Launches Interactive COVID-19 Screening Tool

Users simply answer clinician-informed symptom and risk questions and the tool will then inform them right away whether it is safe to go school that day.

ONTARIO - To help reduce the spread of COVID-19 in schools, the provincial government has launched a voluntary interactive screening tool.

The tool is to help parents, students and staff with the daily assessment of symptoms and risk factors required before going to school.

The results will let parents, students, and education staff know whether they should go to school each day or guide at-risk individuals to proper resources. This tool is another layer of prevention that the Province is using to protect the health and safety of students, staff, and the communities where they live and work.

Premier Doug Ford provided details on September 16th. He says it's everyone's responsibility to monitor how they're feeling.

"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. 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."

Premier Ford was also joined by Deputy Premier and Minister of Health and Minister of Education, Stephen Lecce and President of the Treasury Board Peter Bethlenfalvy.

The new easy-to-use tool is voluntary and available for all parents, students and staff to use to help screen for symptoms of illness every day. 

Users simply answer clinician-informed symptom and risk questions and the tool will then inform them right away whether it is safe to go school that day. The tool protects privacy and none of your personal health information is collected. The Ontario Digital Service also developed the tool in house and at no additional cost to taxpayers.

Minister Lecce says the tool is one of many actions they're taking as school safely reopen across Ontario.

"Our government is taking every preventive action to safely reopen our schools, including the introduction of Ontario's new COVID-19 screening tool for students and staff. We have made tremendous progress as a province, which is why we must continue to heighten our vigilance by stepping up screening of each student and staff member before they enter our schools." 

Earlier this summer, Ontario unveiled Canada's most comprehensive plan for the safe reopening of schools in September. 

The plan is supported by $1.3 billion in critical supports to hire more teachers and increase physical distancing, buy personal protective equipment (PPE), enhance cleaning of schools and school buses, improve ventilation, hire more custodians, and add more school leadership positions and administrative support for virtual schools. 

There was also a mandatory masking policy established by the Province for grades 4-12, and a robust surveillance and testing strategy to make sure students successfully return to classrooms.

Local public health units have filled over 530 nursing positions as well, or 85 per cent, of the additional 625 nursing positions created to help keep students and staff safe. 

The nurses will be providing rapid-response support to schools and school boards in facilitating public health and preventative measures, including screening, testing, tracing and mitigation strategies. To make sure schools are supported from the start of the school year, existing nurses have been temporarily deployed by several public health units while they continue to recruit.

As part of Ontario's commitment for transparency, and in partnership with the Ministry of Heath and the Ontario Digital Service, a webpage was launched by the Ministry of Education to report cases in schools and child care centres. 

This page will be updated every day during the week with the most up-to-date COVID-19 information available, including a summary of cases in schools and licensed child care centres and agencies. This important resource will help parents and guardians know whether a case has been confirmed at their children's school, and where the numbers come from.

Minister Bethlenfalvy says it's important families have access to these tools and information.

"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. 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."

The Operational Guidance: COVID-19 Management in Schools document was also released by the provincial government. It was developed in consultation with public health experts, including Ontario's Chief Medical Officer of Health, and looks to help schools find and isolate COVID-19 cases, reduce the spread of the virus in schools and prevent and minimize outbreaks.

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