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Health and Safety


School Administrators must ensure school staff are aware of their responsibility to assess themselves daily for symptoms of common cold, influenza, COVID-19 or other infectious respiratory disease prior to entering the school.

Handwashing Etiquette and Sanitization

  • Schools will be required to establish a hand washing protocol for students and staff that will be scheduled at set intervals throughout the day. Facilities Services conducted a survey to determine numbers of classrooms with a functioning sink but no soap dispenser. Soap dispensers and additional soap have been ordered and will be installed at these sites. Paper towel will also be provided.
  • Custodial staff will monitor soap, sanitizer, and towel supplies and alert their Administrator supplies need to be replenished.
  • Proper handwashing with warm water and soap is always recommended. In the absence of this, conveniently located, wall-mounted hand sanitizer stations have been provided, or a pump/squeeze bottle of hand sanitizer located in direct proximity to the commonly used entrance/exit door.
  • Hand sanitizer will be in all classrooms and portable classrooms that do not have a functioning sink with soap and running water. Hand washing / sanitizer supplies will be assessed on a regular basis and restocked as required.

Isolation Rooms

  • Principals will select at least one room/area in each school as a designated isolation room. However, for larger school populations, greater than 500, Principals should consider identifying an additional room.
  • A member of the school team will provide supervision, with physical distancing in mind. PPE must be worn during the supervision and must include face shield, disposable mask, gloves, and gown. 
  • Each isolation room will be equipped with supplies and PPE, such as disposable masks, face shield, disposable gowns, gloves. Supplies will include lined waste receptable, and disinfectant.
  • The isolation room will be deep cleaned after each use
  • The room must have an “Isolation” sign that can be posted while the room is in use.
  • The selected isolation room(s) must not impede the timely provision of school first aid services. A first aid room should not be designated as the isolation room.

Outbreak Protocol and Preventative Measures

  • The Board has developed a local COVID-19 Management Response Protocol that will be adapted as new information is received from the Chief Medical Officer of Health or our local health units. 
  • In all cases, the Board will take its direction from the respective Public Health Units:
  • Individuals who test positive for COVID-19 will be contacted by their respective health unit and provided with information about their requirements to self-isolate and identify potential contacts.
  • If a person was at a school/worksite while infectious, public health staff will determine if they posed any additional risk to the workplace, through their contact tracing. Public Health will consult with the Board if additional information is needed related to the individual (e.g., to confirm their close contacts) or if any other measures need to be taken by the workplace or staff to reduce the risk of transmission.
  • If staff have questions or are concerned that they may have had an exposure they can contact their respective health unit:

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Staff - Masking, PPE Guidelines, and Expectations

Based on the revised direction from the Ontario Chief Medical Officer of Health and advice from the Ministry of Labour, the following are the Board’s expectations of the use of PPE in Board sites:

  • In addition to the level 1 or level 2 masks already provided, the ministry will also be supplying staff with the option of a non-fit-tested N95 mask. Staff will have the option to wear either the medical/surgical masks or the non-fit-tested N95 masks. Cloth masks continue to not be appropriate for staff in a school setting.
  • The existing requirement for staff that perform aerosol generating medical procedures (AGMP) to wear a fitted N95 does not change.
  • In all situations, while inside the school, it is the expectation that staff will wear either a medical/surgical mask or a non-fit-tested N95 mask provided by the Board. Masks may be removed while eating/drinking and physical distancing is achieved. For further clarity, cloth masks are not appropriate for staff in a school setting.
  • In addition, eye protection (face shield, goggles, or safety glasses) is required when physical distancing cannot be achieved. Prescription reading or sunglasses are not an appropriate replacement for face shields, goggles, or safety glasses. Face shields, goggles, or safety glasses are placed over top of your glasses.
  • Staff supervising students outside, are expected to have either their medical/surgical mask or a non-fit-tested N95 mask and eye protection on their person in the event they must respond to a situation where the 2 metres (or 6 feet) of distancing is compromised.
  • EAs, or those with increased levels of contact with students, may still require the use gowns or other forms of PPE based on their interaction with students and the risk of splatter or droplet exposure (i.e., spitting, toileting, etc.). It will depend on the activity and the level of need their student(s) may have. There may be times where EAs will have the full garment of PPE for the entire day. 
  • Staff supervising students in the isolation room will be required to wear either a medical/surgical mask or a non-fit-tested N95 mask, face shield as eye protection, gown, and gloves. Goggles or safety glasses are not appropriate in this situation.
  • The PPE expectations apply to any staff (itinerant, SOs, ITS Technicians, teacher candidates, emergency instructors, etc.) that enter a school site.
  • At non-school sites, while inside the building, it is the expectation that staff will wear a face covering, at a minimum. Eye protection (face shield, goggles, or safety glasses) is also encouraged when physical distancing cannot be achieved.

Staff will be expected to care for and maintain PPE provided which is only to be used for work purposes. Board provided PPE must not be used outside of the school or work setting. Visitors will be expected to provide their own PPE in order to access any Board site.

Students- Masking, PPE Guidelines, and Expectations

  • All parents/guardians will be expected to provide their child (Kindergarten-Grade 12) with a personal face covering (non-medical mask) to wear at school (Reasonable medical exceptions will apply.)
  • It is the Board’s expectation that all students Kindergarten-Grade 12 will wear a face covering while at school in accordance with the medical guidance provided by local public health. Please visit the Masking webpage for details.
  • Students who are experiencing symptoms of respiratory illness, even if mild, should stay home. The use of a mask or face covering is not an acceptable alternative.

Our full PPE requirements are expected to be followed by students, staff, volunteers and visitors (including parents/guardians) to help create a safe school environment.

Privacy of Students/Staff

Any communication to individuals that may be impacted due to a positive or suspected COVID-19 case must be considered carefully. The extent of disclosure should be sufficient to inform those who may have been exposed, but also protect the privacy of the worker/student who has or potentially has a positive COVID-19 illness. These obligations must be carefully balanced. Do not provide the name of the worker/student being tested, who is confirmed positive, or names of others being sent home from the workplace to self-isolate. It is best to communicate privately to those individuals who may have had close contact with the affected worker/student and refer generally to the areas in which the worker/student may have been present.

Staff/Student Accommodations

  • Staff with underlying health conditions or who fall within the high-risk category will follow the Board’s current accommodation process.
  • Staff who may need a medical accommodation in the workplace are to consult with Human Resource Services (HRS). Teachers who are on a medical accommodation, preventing them from regular class instruction may be assigned to daily online instruction and check-ins with students. A form that may be completed and submitted to HRS requesting a medical accommodation will be sent under separate cover to all employees.
  • Parents/Guardians who do not want their child at attend school in-person will be permitted to learn from home. Please reference our Virtual Learning page for details. Distance learning will continue and be in line with the guidelines provided by the Ministry of Education.

Staff Training

All BHNCDSB employees are required to:

  • Review the BHNCDSB School Re-Opening Plan and all periodic updates as distributed by the district
  • Participate in any training or education sessions as required to operationalize this protocol

Staff training is under review, but likely to take place at one of the PD Days prior to the start of classes and will include training and information on:

  • Preventative Health Measures (self-assessment, physical distancing, etc.)
  • Personal Protective Equipment
  • School Organizations
  • Health and Safety

Supply of PPE

  • Schools are to regularly monitor their PPE supplies. An inventory of PPE supplies will be housed at Facility Services. The inventory will be monitored by Procurement Services and Facility Services. 
  • The process of ordering additional PPE will be managed centrally. Additional details on process will be shared prior to the start of school.
  • PPE may include disposable gloves, face masks (cloth, non-fitted N95, Level 1 or Level 2 and non-medical grade), face shields/eye goggles, disposable gowns.


  • All bus drivers will be provided with PPE by the Board. Bus drivers will be required to wear a level 1 face mask, while inside the bus and a face shield while students are boarding and de-boarding the bus. Reasonable medical exceptions will apply.
  • With a conventional return to school, student numbers on buses will be as per normal.
  • Students will be required to wear face coverings consistent with school requirements.
  • Families who indicate that they are eligible for, but not planning on using transportation, will be temporarily removed from the bus until such time they indicate a desire for transportation services.
  • Buses will have high touch surfaces disinfected twice daily by a product which carries a Drug Identification Number (DIN) and is confirmed to be effective against COVID-19. Hand sanitizer will be also made available on each school purpose vehicle.
  • Illness kits will be available on all school buses which will be equipped with additional masks in the event that a student becomes ill on the bus. Students who show signs of illness while on the bus will be isolated, where space allows.
  • Each bus will have a detailed seating plan in place. Students will only be allowed to sit in their assigned seat. The seating plan will assist public health officials to contract trace individuals who may have been exposed to the illness in the event that a case is confirmed.
  • Educational Assistants, Nurses and other staff involved in assisting in the boarding and deboarding of students and those that are required to travel with students, will follow health and safety protocols and use the mandatory PPE provided.

Visitors and Volunteers

  • All visitors (including parents/guardians) and volunteers must adhere to 'Staff - Masking, PPE Guidelines and Expectations' of the Board. Visitors/spectators (if permitted) to athletic events must follow protocols specific to the event location. See Athletics (During COVID-19) for details.

Frequently Asked Questions

What proactive health and safety protocols are in place at schools for COVID-19?

BHNCDSB is utilizing a number of health and safety strategies including:

  • All non-essential furniture, supplies, and equipment have been removed from classrooms to assist with physical distancing.
  • Face coverings or masks are mandatory for students in Kindergarten to Grade 12, both in the classroom and on school transportation vehicles. Students will need to supply and use their own reusable face covering or mask (disposable if they wish).
  • Any student requiring a medical exemption from wearing a mask must follow a formal process. Please visit the Masking Requirements webpage for details.   
  • Regular hand washing and/or hand-sanitizing will be built into our school day and encouraged often.
  • Where possible, adjustments have been made to the HVAC systems in schools. Additionally, windows will be opened if possible. Please see the Facilities Services, Ventilation, and Cleaning page for details.
  • There is extensive directional signage placed in all schools to encourage physical distancing. As well, maximum number of people in a single area, physical distancing, hand sanitizing reminders and many other signs have been placed throughout the school.
  • There is increased cleaning and disinfecting of common space, bathrooms and shared items