Update on 2022-23 Public Health Measures in Schools
Thank you for staying informed as we adjust in this pandemic recovery period. We continue to follow the Ministry of Education’s direction for the 2022-23 Health and Safety Measures in Schools, while also continuing our collaborative partnership with Hamilton Public Health Services (HPHS).
Topics in this update:
Continuing the effective practices that we used to reduce COVID-19 transmission will help us prepare for the upcoming cold and flu season. Spending more time indoors can increase the risk of respiratory illness. We will continue to promote and integrate appropriate hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette during the school day. Schools will continue to promote hand washing as an effective health precaution.
It is still recommended that staff, students and visitors continue to self-screen every day before attending school using the COVID-19 school and childcare screening tool. This tool is frequently updated, so please check this web page for changes. We no longer verify student or staff screening results. Please stay home if you are unwell.
HWDSB is a mask-friendly environment. We continue to encourage and recommend the wearing of masks in schools, administrative buildings and buses, as an effective public health measure. We will continue to offer free masks for students and visitors to our schools. Although masks are not required, our schools, offices and buses are respectful, welcoming and inclusive environments where individuals can choose to wear or not to wear a mask.
We have sent schools posters to display, as one more way to reinforce this mask-friendly environment where people may choose to wear masks for various reasons and due to varying comfort levels. In addition, we continue to make PPE available for our staff.
If students or staff test positive, the current guidance is that they wear a mask for the 10 days after testing positive or symptoms begin. Many people will continue to test positive or have symptoms that have improved but persist. We encourage staff and students to follow the latest guidance from their health care practitioner or the COVID-19 school and childcare screening tool. Please note that we are not asking staff to evaluate a student’s health, in place of their parent or medical practitioner.
HWDSB is pleased that we can continue to offer rapid antigen test kits for symptomatic students and staff. Tests are available upon request, to be taken home and only used when someone is symptomatic at home.
As you may have noticed, schools are continuing to post on their school websites when they are made aware of a positive test result (PCR or RAT) for staff and students. Please note that, while the Ministry of Education has suspended reporting of COVID-19 cases in schools, HWDSB is committed to informing families of a positive case when it is reported to a school. You can learn more about case reporting in schools. In addition, we continue to have spaces in each school for ill students; students who are unwell and unable to participate in school are asked to be picked up from school.
Staying up to date on vaccination helps to keep everyone protected from serious diseases that can easily spread in schools and throughout our communities. HWDSB communications will continue to share vaccine information from Hamilton Public Health Services when appropriate.
It is recommended that individuals six months to 17 years of age stay up to date on COVID-19 vaccination. Although this age group is not eligible for a bivalent vaccine, the monovalent vaccine provides an extra layer of protection against the health effects of COVID-19. For information about eligibility for COVID-19 vaccination for all populations, visit www.hamilton.ca/COVIDvaccines. Children six months to 17 years of age will be able to walk-in at Hamilton Public Health Services led clinics to receive a monovalent COVID-19 vaccine. This means that students aged five to 17 can walk in to receive their first, second, and fall booster dose of a COVID-19 vaccine (and their siblings aged six months to under five can walk in for their first and second dose).
If parents and caregivers have questions about the COVID-19 vaccine, Hamilton Public Health Services encourages them to speak with the health care provider who knows their family best – their family doctor or nurse practitioner. Parents and caregivers can also call the Provincial Vaccine Contact Centre at 1-833-943-3900, visit the COVID-19 Vaccine Consult Service to book a phone appointment with a SickKids Registered Nurse: www.sickkids.ca/vaccineconsult and access information and frequently asked questions at www.hamilton.ca/ChildVaccine. Providing information and resources tailored to a family’s needs will ensure community members can make an informed decision based on their and their loved ones’ personal circumstances.
As of September 26, 2022, all individuals aged 18 years and older are eligible to receive a fall COVID-19 bivalent (Moderna) booster dose, regardless of the number of booster doses previously received.
To book a vaccination appointment, please visit www.hamilton.ca/GetYourVaccine. This page can accept bookings for eligible residents with an Ontario health card (green photo health card OR red and white) and an email address or cell phone number.
Individuals without an Ontario health card, or without an email address or cell phone number can call the Public Health Services COVID-19 Vaccine Hotline: 905-974-9848, option 7. Translation services are available by phone.
Residents are also encouraged to check with local pharmacies who are offering COVID-19 vaccination as neighbourhood pharmacists are anticipated to administer nearly 75 per cent of all COVID-19 vaccines locally this upcoming respiratory illness season.
Hamilton Public Health Services will be resuming routine vaccination of Grade 7 students in school this fall, as well as routine vaccinations for Grade 8 students who have not yet received these vaccines due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
When a school clinic is offered, families will receive a consent form, fact sheet and letter from HPHS. Please review the fact sheet with your child. The three vaccinations that will be offered in school are Hepatitis B, Human Papillomavirus (HPV) and Meningitis vaccines.
Hamilton Public Health Services is now providing catch-up vaccine clinics for grades 7 to 12 students (born between 2005 and 2010) who missed their first or second doses of Hepatitis B, HPV, and Meningococcal ACYW-135 vaccines in Grade 7 due to the pandemic and/or students who have received a letter from HPHS that they are due/overdue for Tetanus-Diphtheria-Pertussis vaccine.
All catch-up clinics will have COVID-19 precautions in place, including requiring masks and screening for COVID-19 on entry. Consent forms DO NOT need to be completed ahead of time. Consent will be obtained on site at the catch-up clinics.
For grades 7-12 students looking to book an appointment for Hepatitis B, HPV and Meningococcal ACYW-135 and any other overdue routine vaccines, two weeks of appointments are available now, with new appointments being released every Monday. Clinics run Mondays from 12:30 to 7 p.m., from September 12 to December 19, 2022, at the Mountain Vaccine Clinic in Lime Ridge Mall (999 Upper Wentworth St., Hamilton, L9A 4X5). Additional dates and times will be added when available.
Appointments are required to attend the vaccine clinic. Learn more.
If you have questions, please call HPHS at 905-546-2424 ext. 7556 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. School clinics are expected in secondary schools later this school year.
We are pleased that the partnership between HWDSB and HPHS continues, and that schools will receive direct services from a School Program Public Health Nurse (PHN) to support comprehensive school health. The role of a school PHN includes supporting school-based health and wellness goals, working with school mental health teams, student groups, School Councils and much more. The school program has been enhanced for 2022-23 to support COVID-19 recovery and address priority health issues such as mental health and well-being. To learn more, please speak with your school or visit www.hamilton.ca/healthyschools.
Hamilton Public Health Services is pleased to be back in schools this year providing dental and vision screening for children in all elementary schools. Screening teams will be in contact with Hamilton elementary schools to provide more information and to schedule screening dates—helping to ensure healthy smiles and vision across the community.
HWDSB and Hamilton Public Health Services continue to partner so that schools remain smoke and vape free, as one way to encourage positive and healthy lifestyle choices. HPHS is issuing an annual reminder about the Smoke-Free Ontario Act.
Smoking cannabis or tobacco and vaping any substance is prohibited anywhere on school property and in public areas within 20 metres of the perimeter of the school grounds. If you are caught smoking or vaping in school or on school property, you may be ticketed and fined. Fines start at $305.
Supply or sale of tobacco or electronic cigarettes to minors is prohibited and should be reported.
Under the Education Act, principals will consider for suspension any student under the influence of, or in possession of, recreational cannabis while at school, on school property, or at a school-related activity. Principals will also consider suspension and possible expulsion if a student gives cannabis to a minor.
HEPA filter units are installed in every occupied kindergarten class, in all occupied learning spaces without mechanical ventilation, and in mechanically ventilated learning spaces without MERV-13 level filters. HWDSB will continue to deploy additional HEPA filter units in learning spaces in a manner that maximizes their benefit. All units have been prepared for the return of class, with filters having been replaced over the summer.
Community members can now view school-specific Standardized Ventilation Reports for our HWDSB buildings. This dashboard, which was standardized by the Ministry of Education, displays each school’s ventilation system along with other ventilation and filtration measures. Access the reports through the Excel document at School Ventilation Report September 2022. We will continue to publicly communicate ventilation measures on our website.
If you have any questions, please speak with your school principal.