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New Science Brief outlines guidance for return to in-person school

The Science Table and Ontario hospitals, including Holland Bloorview, SickKids, CHEO release guidance on returning to in-person school this fall

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen the negative impacts of school closures on the physical, mental and developmental health and well-being of children and youth. A Science Brief has been created to provide guidance and help facilitate a return to in-person school in September 2021.

The Science Brief details permanent measures that can be used beyond the COVID-19 pandemic to protect against infectious diseases in the school setting, as well as temporary measures designed to minimize risks to students, staff and families in times when there may be higher community rates of severe COVID-19 causing hospitalizations. The new document also outlines recommendations for the re-initiation and maintenance of extracurricular activities, which are an important component of return-to-school plans.

The document was created by an interdisciplinary group of experts in paediatrics, infectious diseases, infection prevention and control, education, epidemiology, environmental and occupational health, indoor air quality, public health, school health, psychiatry and mental health, rural health and Indigenous health. Further, broad stakeholder engagement that included hospitals in Ontario (The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids), CHEO, Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital, Kingston Health Sciences Centre, Children’s Hospital at London Health Sciences CentreMcMaster Children’s Hospital and Unity Health Toronto), education administration (school boards, principals), the school community (educators, parents, and students), and members of the Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table took place.

To view the brief, visit the Science Table’s website.