Community Update from Ottawa Public Health

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Feb. 13 Update: To read the latest special announcement from OPH you can visit here.


The following message is from Ottawa Public Health:

Essential Travel – To and From School 

As schools have resumed back to in-person learning, families/caregivers may be making picking up children to and from schools, childcare facilities  or bus stops. It is important for families/caregivers to remember that Ontario is still under a Stay-at-Home Order. This means that travel to and from school is considered an essential trip. Additional stops along the way should ONLY be made IF they are essential. If possible, make essential trips when your children are not with you. Please remember to practice important public health measures such as physical distancing and mask wearing if you are dropping off or picking up your child(ren) and will be near staff or other families.

Public Health Measures while Picking Up and Dropping Off 

Public health measures such as physical distancing and mask wearing (even outdoors) are very important and must be followed. Protect yourself and others when walking to or waiting at a bus stop with your child.  While waiting at the designated pick up/drop off area at the school/child care, remember to keep a minimum of  a 2 meter distance from other people and wear a mask. Students and families should avoid congregating in groups while waiting outside before and after school.

Testing in Schools

We would like to thank parents for getting back in the habit of daily screening of children for symptoms of COVID-19 before they go to school. If your child meets the criteria, seek testing right away and ensure every member of the household stays home and self-isolates while waiting for the test results.

We will continue to work with our partners to offer onsite testing at schools, particularly to improve access to testing where there are a large number of high-risk contacts, as well as when we are seeking more information about potential transmission in a school.

The basics, of limiting close contacts to the people you live with, staying two metres apart from anyone outside your household, wearing a mask and washing hands often are a routine that will help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and its variants.

NEW COVID-19 Screening Tool for High School Students

NEW this year, to facilitate youth self-screening, students in secondary school can now do their own screening using the COVID-19 Screening Tool for High School Students. Any student who wishes to screen themselves (instead of a parent/guardian on their behalf) can do so via the link. Screening itself has not changed from the previous tool. Screening MUST be completed daily before travelling to school. Please encourage your youth to save the link to their web browser or home screen on their device. Reminder: school staff will be checking in with secondary students daily to ensure they have completed their daily screening.

Special Focus: COVID-19 in Schools 

Today Ottawa Public Health published a special report on COVID-19 in schools. This report, which can now be found on, found that while limited transmission of COVID-19 occurred within schools and peaked in early October, it declined soon thereafter.

The report also showed that the vast majority – 85 per cent – of those who tested positive got their infection outside of school. And of the 55 outbreaks identified in schools, more than half involved only two individuals.

The data in this report, in addition to the negative mental health impacts of school closures on our entire community, supports the decision to reopen schools in Ottawa.

We know these last several weeks have been particularly challenging. We want parents to know they don’t have to parent without support and there are resources available to help parents. Visit our Supporting Schools during COVID-19 page and our Parenting in Ottawa website for more information.

Keep up with your health and seek medical care when you need it

Our hospital partners have highlighted that older adults who test positive for COVID-19 are sometimes waiting too long before going to the emergency department, which can lead to more severe illness and death. If you have COVID-19 symptoms, please get tested.

If you have been diagnosed with COVID-19:

  • Monitor your symptoms carefully (try keeping a journal)
  • Don’t delay getting medical care if your symptoms worsen
  • Remember that your condition can change rapidly
  • If your symptoms progress, help is available by booking an appointment at the COVID-19 care clinics, which are out-of-hospital clinics specifically for this virus
  • If you need urgent care, go to the nearest emergency department, or call 911 immediately.

If you have symptoms of COVID-19 and are concerned that you may need more than just a swab, please consider making an appointment for a physician care visit at one of Ottawa’s four care clinics. At a COVID-19 Care and Testing Centre, you can see a physician and, if medically appropriate, get the following tests:

  • Chest X-ray
  • EKG
  • Basic blood work
  • Throat culture
  • COVID testing

Again, if you are in distress (e.g., significant trouble breathing, chest pain, fainting, or have a significant worsening of any chronic disease symptoms), do not go to a COVID-19 Assessment Centre or a COVID-19 Care and Testing Centre. Call 9-1-1 or go to the nearest emergency department.

For locations and hours of the COVID-19 Assessment Centres and COVID-19 Care and Testing Centres, please visit our website.

Health care providers have also noted that fewer people are going to their medical appointments or seeking medical help out of concern of getting COVID-19. Even during a pandemic, one thing that should not change is seeking medical care when needed.  Waiting too long to get medical help can have serious consequences.

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