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Managing communicable diseases in schools

Details about the role of schools, when to report to us, and preventing infections.

This is an additional resource related to school board policies. Refer to your school board policy first if you have questions or concerns.

Role of the school

Manage sick children:

Report certain communicable diseases:

Role of Peel Public Health

Peel Public Health has responsibility for the control of communicable diseases in the community through screening, education, immunization, treatment, and follow-up of cases of certain diseases and their contacts.

The activities undertaken by Public Health are specific to each disease and depend on the severity, mode of transmission, etc.

Peel Public Health will provide:

Details regarding the diagnosis and treatment of an individual are confidential and cannot be shared with school personnel.

Other information

Under the Health Protection and Promotion Act, school administrators are to report to the local Medical Officer of Health any person who may be infected with a communicable disease. However, the act does not specify which disease to report.

This information will help you decide when to report to the Medical Officer of Health, Peel Public Health, that a student in your school has a communicable disease.

Certain diseases, confirmed by a doctor, that require an immediate response by public health to prevent further spread. Review the list of reportable diseases.

To report call Peel Public Health at 905-799-7700, Caledon 905-584-2216.

It’s not necessary for schools to report other less urgent diseases such as hepatitis, Lyme disease or sexually transmitted infections. These diseases are already reported to Peel Public Health by laboratories and community physicians as required by Ontario law.

Also, individual cases of common childhood sicknesses such as pink eye, hand foot and mouth disease or ring worm are not reportable to Peel Public Health unless special surveillance is being conducted on one of these diseases.

Diseases under special surveillance

This would be arranged separately with the school board during times when Peel Public Health is monitoring a certain disease in the community. Chickenpox is an example of a surveillance initiative.

To report Chickenpox in your school use Notification of Chickenpox (Varicella) in Schools form.

Access the sample Chickenpox notification letter for parents.

Unusual increases in the number of students who have diarrhea, vomiting and flu-like sicknesses

Reporting these sicknesses gives Peel Public Health the opportunity to investigate possible food borne sicknesses and provide consultation on infection prevention and control measures for schools.

Establish and follow school or board policies on:

  • Management of sick children.
  • Management of infectious communicable diseases.
  • Exclusion of sick children.

Unwell students with symptoms such as fever, rash, sore throat and vomiting or diarrhea should be encouraged to stay home when sick. This will help to reduce the spread of infection in your school. In these common situations, principals should use their discretion or Board policy to decide whether a student should be at school or home.

There may be some circumstances when principals will need to work with Peel Public Health to exclude students from school because of a disease investigation. We will notify the Board and schools of these situations and will provide exclusion and readmission guidelines as required.

Refer to the Canadian Pediatric Society for further details on suggested exclusions and readmissions for various communicable diseases.