Illness in the Classroom
How and when do I report my child's illness?
- Parents - Please report any serious, contagious illness which is spread through close contact (coughing, sneezing, saliva), such as measles, mumps or whooping cough to your child's school.
- Schools - Report any serious, contagious illness such as measles, mumps or whooping cough to a Public Health unit. Public Health nurses work to prevent diseases and control disease outbreaks in schools. It is recommended that schools contact their school nurse or local Public Health Unit for guidance when attendance records indicate that more than 10 per cent of the school population is absent, or if three or more students/staff from a particular class/team are absent with symptoms of respiratory illness (influenza-like illness) or stomach flu (gastroenteritis). After illness in your school, you must properly disinfect during clean-up.
How do I protect myself and others from communicable diseases in schools?
There are a variety of communicable diseases that tend to circulate in schools and daycares, including influenza, chicken pox and stomach flu.
Influenza, an infection of the respiratory system (including the nose, throat and lungs) is caused by the influenza virus. It is easily spread in schools during the fall and winter. Hand washing and staying at home when you are sick are important ways to stop the spread. Getting you and your child immunized with the flu shot every year is your best chance against infection.
Chicken pox may have severe consequences for children and adults with lowered immunity, for example people receiving cancer treatment. Anyone with lowered immunity in school classrooms should be quickly advised, in consultation with a school health nurse, when a case of chicken pox occurs in the school.
Stomach flu, or gastroenteritis, can spread very quickly in schools, resulting in high levels of absenteeism. The virus can live for a long time on surfaces so effective cleaning and disinfecting is important. As with most contagious illnesses, hand washing is also a very important preventive measure. People can still spread a gastrointestinal virus for several days after they recover. In an outbreak, Public Health will often recommend ill children and teachers stay home for two days after their symptoms stop.
How do I protect myself against communicable diseases?
Most of the time, you can't tell if a person is infected with HIV, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, or any other disease. The best thing to do is to treat all blood and body fluids of every person as potentially infectious. These body fluids include blood, semen, vaginal secretions, breast milk, and any fluid containing blood.
Immunizations can also protect you from many communicable diseases. Overall, hand washing is the best way to prevent the spread of germs from one person to another. Learn more about hand washing and other ways to prevent illness, including how to clean up bodily fluids and properly use antibiotics.