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Ontario students told to stay home if family member has single COVID-19 symptom

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The Ontario Ministry of Education updated its COVID-19 screening tool on Friday.

“Everyone in your household should stay home if anyone has COVID-19 symptoms or is waiting for test results after experiencing symptoms,” a note on the website warns.

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An update from the Waterloo Region District School Board says that means if any family member experiences a single COVID-19 symptom, students should be kept at home.

The note on the province’s website goes on to say that everyone should stay home until that person has a test and the result comes back negative.

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A spokesperson for Stephen Lecce says the changes were made on the advice of Ontario’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. David Williams.

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“In response to the latest available evidence and guidance, Ontario’s chief medical officer of health has provided a more rigorous and cautious approach to support an enhanced school and child-care screening program,” Caitlin Clark told Global News in an email.

“Changes have been made to the provincial COVID-19 school and child-care screening criteria, including single-symptom screening and enhanced isolation requirements for household contacts of symptomatic individuals.”

The changes will come into effect when kids are screened before they head to school on Monday morning.

The screening tool also asks whether anyone has travelled outside the country or whether a doctor or medical professional has told them to isolate.

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Other questions include whether they have received a COVID-19 exposure warning on their phone or if they have come into close contact with anyone who has caught the virus before providing a list of symptoms the child may have.

School boards were notified of the pending changes in a memo on Tuesday from Education Minister Stephen Lecce.

At the same time, some boards also were told to offer targeted asymptomatic testing in at least five per cent of their elementary and secondary schools, reaching two per cent of their student populations weekly.

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With files from the Canadian Press

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