Parents should keep their children home from school at the first sign of illness — even a runny nose — Ottawa's medical officer of health says.
"We need to take all the precautions we can to keep [COVID-19] out of schools, and that means, yes, when someone has a runny nose, we want them to stay home," Dr. Vera Etches told CBC Radio's Ottawa Morning.
Etches is urging people to get tested for COVID-19 if they display any symptoms of sickness at all, and not return to school or work until the test comes back negative and their symptoms subside.
"Even if it's not COVID, it's still going to cause a lot of strife and challenge if other people pick up a virus, and then they have to go get tested. It's really best to stay home when you're sick, whatever that sickness is," Etches said.
School nurses to act as eyes and ears
Etches said some of the 36 public health nurses being recruited to work in schools are already on the job, as some schools in Ottawa reopened earlier this week. She said the nurses will each be responsible for a different cluster of elementary schools, along with a nearby middle or high school.
"They are making sure that the good practices that we know will help prevent transmission of COVID are in place," Etches said.
The nurses will also help investigate absenteeism, and will be a "point person" when positive cases occur in schools.
"If we know there's a confirmed case of COVID in a child, they'll help answer the questions and do the follow-up to identify the close contacts. It really is the close contacts who will be notified then directly by a public health employee," Etches said.
Etches has previously explained that an outbreak will only be declared in a school when two linked cases are discovered.