Back to School in 2021

What happens if a person attending school tests positive for COVID-19?

As staff and students get ready to return to in person classes on February 8th, we’d like to re-share some important information about schools and COVID-19. Returning to class in 2021 brings in a some additional public health measures from the province that may include:

  • Provincewide access, in consultation with the local PHU, to targeted asymptomatic testing for students and staff;
  • Mandatory masking requirement for students in Grades 1-3, and masking requirement for Grades 1-12 outdoors where physical distancing cannot be maintained;
  • Providing 3.5 million high quality cloth masks to schools as back-up supply for Grade 1-12 students;
  • Enhanced screening for secondary students and staff;
  • Guidance discouraging students from congregating before and after school; and,
  • Temporary certification of eligible teacher candidates who are set to graduate in 2021 to stabilize staffing levels, following high levels of absenteeism.


Learn all about our processes when a student or staff tests positive for COVID-19.

Is someone in your home going to school? Chances are you’ve had lots of questions about what this school year will look like. One of those questions might be, “What happens if a student tests positive for COVID-19?”

Student wearing a mask on her way to school.

At CK Public Health, we have a team dedicated to keeping schools and students safe and healthy. The first priority for the School Health Team is preventing people from getting COVID-19 in the first place.

In the event that someone who attends school tests positive for COVID-19, it is important that we are all prepared to do our part. CK Public Health will support families, students, and schools to respond quickly and prevent the spread to others in the school and the community.

What happens if a person attending school tests positive for COVID-19?

CK Public Health will be notified of the positive result and contact the person who tested positive.

When CK Public Health is notified by the lab of a positive test result, Public Health Nurses will contact the person and/or their guardian. Every case is different. Public Health Nurses will assess each situation to determine the best actions to take.

Public Health Nurses will inform the school.

CK Public Health will notify the school as soon as possible. The team will be in continuous contact with the school and school board to provide updates, coordinate the response, and monitor the situation.

Public Health Nurse on the School Health Team completing contact tracing.Public Health Nurses will inform those who were in close contact with the person who tested positive.

Public Health Nurses will immediately begin a process called contact tracing. This involves gathering information from the person who tested positive, their guardian(s), and the school. This will help identify who they were in close contact with during the time they could have passed COVID-19 to others.

Close contacts and/or their guardian(s) will be called by a Public Health Nurse and given information on what they need to do.

The health and safety of students and school communities is our number one priority. While this will be inconvenient for schools and families in the short-term, these measures will support the health and safety of everyone.

Who is considered a close contact?

Based on the best evidence right now, people are considered a close contact of someone who tests positive for COVID-19 if they have been within 2 metres (6 feet) without personal protective equipment for a period of time. Public Health Nurses working on the case will do a thorough investigation to determine the full, accurate list of close contacts.

When should a close contact of a person who tested positive get tested?

CK Public Health will work with people who are close contacts of someone who tested positive to determine when they should go for testing. Each situation will be different. It’s important to follow the instructions of the Public Health Nurse when it comes to timing of the test. Timing is important to make sure the COVID-19 virus is found by the test. If someone is tested too early after a possible exposure, they may have to get re-tested because the virus could be found after the original test was taken.

Student wearing a mask practices hand hygiene at school.

Someone in my school tested positive for COVID-19. Should I get tested?

No. Please do not go to the assessment centre unless you have been contacted by CK Public Health. The test is meant for people who are showing symptoms or who are close contacts. If you have not been contacted by CK Public Health, you can help by continuing to self-monitor for symptoms and following precautions at school and in the community.

How does CK Public Health support people who test positive and people who were in close contact to the person?

Public Health Nurses will continue to check-in regularly with people who are self-isolating and their close contacts to ensure they have the supports they need and are able to follow the guidelines.

When will the person who tested positive be safe to return to school?

CK Public Health will work with the person, the family, their close contacts, and the school to develop a plan for returning safely to the school setting. This will also be unique to each individual and require thorough assessment by the school health team.

Where can I learn more?

For more information and updates please visit our School & COVID-19 page.

Learn more about contact tracing and what CK Public Health does when someone in the community tests positive for COVID-19.

Visit our Help Page for information on available social and financial supports during COVID-19.

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