COVID-19 Exclusion Criteria

[This is the body of the July 31 “Information Update from Lyonsgate” email sent to all Lyonsgate families]

Hello Lyonsgate Families,

Well, things continue to evolve. We had a large piece of communication prepared for you for today. It covered some of the elements for the September return to school that we have been able to plan for based on Ministry of Education legislation and Hamilton Public Health directives. It was the first of a number of planned communications to share a large amount of information with you as we approach September.

As we’re sure you all know, the Provincial government announced plans for the public school re-opening yesterday afternoon (guiding our Elementary planning), which was followed by a memo from the Ministry of Education yesterday evening announcing coming changes to licensed child care legislation (affecting the Primary campus Casa and Toddler programs). Both of these announcements may significantly change our planning for how the Lyonsgate Primary and Elementary campuses will operate in September.

The brief summation is that all children will still be able to attend school at Lyonsgate full time, five days per week. Allowable class/cohort sizes have been increased. Masks for staff at both locations, and for older Elementary students, are now mandatory. Strict health and safety protocols will remain in place.

Both of these announcements will be accompanied by updated, detailed operational guidance documents from both the Provincial government and Hamilton Public Health “in the coming days,” as we have been told. These documents provide the practical details of how the announced measures must be put into place and practice. Once we receive these documents we will be able to adjust the operational plans, policies, and procedures for both Lyonsgate campuses, and let you know what school will look like and how it will function in September.

We know everyone needs answers and information, and we have been working hard throughout July to make plans, adjust infrastructure, and develop and secure the necessary resources based on the legislation and directives available. It seems that some of that will remain the same, but significant portions will also change. We cannot provide details until we know what the new rules are, but we do want to convey some information that is important.

Strict Health and Safety Guidelines

It was noted in both the announcement and the memo that enhanced, strict health and safety guidelines will remain in place. These include things such as daily health screening of children and families, increased environmental cleaning and disinfection, and very strict “exclusion criteria” and procedures.

The exclusion criteria and procedures will have the most significant impact on you. While schools are indeed re-opening, please be prepared to have children at home at a greater frequency and for longer periods than usual throughout the school year. As long as the health and safety guidelines do in fact remain unchanged, here’s what we can tell you (this is part of our original, planned communication for you for today):

To address COVID-19, Hamilton Public Health has updated what are called “exclusion criteria.” These are the conditions under which children must be excluded from attendance at school, and for how long. As you can imagine, these exclusion criteria have become significantly more strict. As things stand right now, children will not be allowed to attend or remain at school if they exhibit or develop even the most common of symptoms. The list of exclusionary symptoms, which also make up part of the daily screening process, are:

Fever (37.8C or higher), new/worsening cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, difficulty swallowing, new olfactory (loss of smell) or taste disorders, nausea/vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, runny nose/nasal congestion (except seasonal allergies, nasal drip, etc.), unexplained fatigue/malaise/myalgia, chills, headache, conjunctivitis, lethargy/difficulty feeding in infants. [Note: these same exclusionary symptoms also apply to Lyonsgate staff.]

Children exhibiting any of these symptoms, or developing any of these symptoms while at school, must be “excluded.” As parents of young children, you know that this list will affect everyone at some point during the school year. If a child is excluded for any of these symptoms there are specific protocols we must all follow:

1. The school must report the case to Hamilton Public Health and the family must also contact Hamilton Public Health for testing referral.
2. Depending on whether or not testing is completed, and the results of the test, different scenarios come into play. From Hamilton Public Health:

Individuals who are tested:

• Children/staff who test negative for COVID-19 must be excluded until 24 hours after symptom resolution. [Note: this exclusionary period would include the time involved in being tested, receiving the results, and ensuring the child is 100% symptom free for at least 24 hours without the aid of symptom relief medication].

 • Children/staff who test positive for COVID-19 must be excluded from child care centre for 14 days after the onset of symptoms and clearance has been received from the local public health unit. [Note: in this case the entire cohort/class is also required to be excluded: “A single positive case in a child/staff results in an outbreak being declared at the child care centre. All members of the cohort are to be excluded from the child care centre for 14 days. In consultation with Public Health, cohort members may be referred for testing” — Hamilton Public Health.]

Individuals who are not tested:

• Ill children/staff, if not tested, must be excluded for 14 days from onset of their symptoms.

The likelihood of longer and more frequent than usual absences from school is high for all of us under these conditions.

Once we receive the new operational guidelines, we will be moving quickly to adjust the planning we have completed so far. While there is much momentum at the political level to open up schools and child care to full capacity operations, Lyonsgate will continue to develop operational plans with the health and safety of the children, your families, and our staff and their families as the top priority.

Thank you, and please continue to follow all public health guidelines for the health and safety of your family, and the wider community, so that we can all participate in a full and safe 2020.2021 school year.