Download the COVID Alert mobile app to protect yourself and your community
Get a phone alert if you have been exposed to (coronavirus), and let others know if you test positive without sharing any personal information.
NWHU Covid-19 Resources
NWHU School and Childcare FAQ – NEW 2022-01-17
Added January 25, 2022
FAQs on Household Isolation (242 downloads)
Added March 3, 2020
Back to School Confirmation Form (286 downloads)
Added October 15, 2020
Child with Symptoms (241 downloads)
Added October 8, 2020
Return to School Q&A's (244 downloads)
Added October 8, 2020
The Northwestern Health Unit works with partners in education so that students and school staff stay healthy. We are continuing to monitor COVID-19 in our area and will support school boards throughout the year.
Click here to be redirected to NWHU website
Gaagagekiizhik Elementary & Bimose Community High School COVID 19 information
School and Childcare Frequently Asked Questions (Info from NWHU)
Posted January 25, 2022 10:20AM
My child has symptoms of COVID-19 or tests positive on a rapid test. What do I do?
Use the Ontario school and childcare screen to assess your child’s symptoms and follow all instructions. If the screen says to isolate for 5 or 10 days, and/or your child tests positive on a rapid test, visit www.ontario.ca/exposed, for information on what to do next. Depending on the results of the screen, household members may need to isolate for the same amount of time as the person who is symptomatic or tested positive. If 5 or 10-day isolation is required, it is the parent/guardian’s responsibility to notify your child’s close contacts and complete the required isolation time, even if symptoms improve. Inform your child’s school or childcare of the absence. You are not required to report results of positive rapid tests to the health unit or the school/childcare centre.
Who is considered a close contact?
A close contact is anyone you were less than two metres away from for at least 15 minutes, or multiple shorter lengths of time, without masking in the 48 hours before symptoms began or a positive test result, whichever came first. Informing your contacts will help stop the spread of the virus. Give them the link to this webpage, www.ontario.ca/exposed, so they can protect themselves and their contacts.
Your close contacts should follow the advice for being exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.
Classmates in school who were following all protocols such as distancing and masking are generally not considered close contacts. Children might have friends from class that they spend time with outside of school who may be close contacts.
How will I know if my child is a contact of someone with symptoms of COVID-19 or has tested positive?
In most cases, the person who is symptomatic or positive for COVID-19 is responsible to notify you. NWHU continues to contact people who are connected to cases in high-risk settings such as long-term care homes. Schools are not considered high-risk settings.
What happens if there is a case in my child’s school?
Principals are responsible to report to NWHU if there is a sharp increase in absences (approximately 30%) due to illness. Upon receiving a report, NWHU will send a letter to families to notify them if higher levels of illness occur. Generally, schools will remain open to staff and students who pass the daily screen. If there are staffing shortages due to illness, schools may need to close classrooms or schools until staffing can be arranged.
How can my child prevent getting COVID-19?
Getting vaccinated is our best defence against COVID-19. In addition to vaccination, your school/childcare centre has put measures in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19. As with all infectious diseases, students should: wash hands regularly, stay 2 metres from others (whenever possible), stay home when feeling unwell, practice cough/sneeze etiquette, and follow any other instructions required by the school/childcare centre such as use of masks indoors. Role modelling preventive measures in your personal life will help reinforce these practices for your child.
Why is the process for school cases changing with the Omicron variant?
The Omicron variant is more transmissible and transmits faster. The health care system does not have the resources to test or trace contacts of everyone who is sick due to the high number of cases. Contact tracing is also less effective when a virus transmits so quickly. To reduce hospitalizations and deaths, it is necessary to focus efforts on high-risk settings. Schools have not been a high-risk setting for transmission of COVID-19 and most cases of the Omicron variant in children tend to be a milder illness or do not require hospitalization. Some groups still have a higher risk for more severe illness, including people who are unvaccinated, older, or immunocompromised. Public health is focusing contact tracing efforts on high-risk settings like long-term care homes and people who work in health care settings. This process is similar to how public health responds to other infectious diseases. Please continue to do all you can to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Why are schools going back to in-person when there are cases?
Currently, the benefits of in-person learning far outweigh the risks at a population level. It has been shown that in-person learning can positively impact our students’ health and well-being. Emerging evidence suggests Ontarians aged 5-19 years appear to be at low risk for hospitalization and severe disease from Omicron, compared to other ages and compared to the Delta variant. Hospitalization risk is further reduced by vaccination.
New Travel Recommendations from NWHU
Posted December 15, 2020 9:00AM
For many, the holiday season normally comes with travel plans, however Northwestern Health Unit (NWHU) is advising against it this year. The new advice aligns with the Ministry of Health’s recommendations and will help reduce the risk of transmitting COVID-19 in our area.
The recommendations include:
Travel within Ontario
• Using the provincial COVID-19 response framework as a guide, people in higher transmission areas should avoid travel to lower transmission areas (e.g., from Red to Orange, from Yellow to Green) except for essential reasons.
• Avoid all non-essential travel to areas that have higher levels of COVID-19 (Orange, Red and Grey levels).
• Those returning to our area from very high risk areas (Lockdown or Grey) in Ontario, should drastically reduce close contact with others for 10 to 14 days after arriving home. This will help lower the risk of exposure to COVID-19.
• Staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others.
• Self-isolate, or drastically reduce close contact with others 10 to 14 days after returning home to help lower the risk of spreading COVID-19.
• Manitoba border communities who use Kenora as their main service hub and do not travel west of Falcon Lake are exempt from this recommendation.
NWHU reminds people that anyone who travels and develops symptoms should self-isolate and get tested for COVID-19. It is advised that residents do not host out of town guests for non-essential reasons, however, if they do host guests from higher risk areas, they should selfmonitor for symptoms and get tested if symptoms develop.
See full details here.
Updated Manitoba Travel Recommendations from NWHU
Posted November 17, 2020 9:13AM
The province of Manitoba has moved to the critical (red) level in their pandemic response system. Rates of COVID-19 in Manitoba are the highest in the country.
Northwestern Health Unit (NWHU) urges the public not to travel to or from Manitoba unless it is for an essential purpose. Anyone who has travelled to Manitoba or is coming into our region from Manitoba should stay home and not interact with anyone outside of their household for 14 days after entering northwestern Ontario. If someone who has travelled to or from Manitoba gets symptoms of COVID-19 within 14 days of entering our region, they should self-isolate and get tested. Household members of that individual should also self-isolate until the test results are received.
“Interacting with someone who has recently been in Manitoba puts you at a higher risk forCOVID-19. To protect our communities, anyone who has travelled to or from Manitoba should stay at home and not interact with anyone outside of their household for 14 days after arriving in northwestern Ontario,” Dr. Kit Young Hoon, Medical Officer of Health at NWHU says.
Following this recommendation may not be possible for individuals who are travelling for essential reasons such as medical services, to facilitate shared parenting arrangements, or if travelling for essential employment like health care, transportation, or law enforcement. “Those who have been in Manitoba for essential reasons should minimize interacting with anyone outside of their household as much as is reasonably possible for 14 days on entering Northwestern Ontario,” Dr. Young Hoon continues.
See full details here
New letter to Parents
Posted October 29, 2020 1:00PM
Parent/Guardian Back to School Confirmation Form
Posted October 16, 2020 9:00 a.m.
The NWHU has provided a form to confirm that a student is healthy and able to return to school.Back to School Confirmation Form (286 downloads)
Northwestern Health Unit resource updates
Posted October 8, 2020 1:00PM
The NWHU has updated some of thier school resources to match the revised Ontario School Screening Tool that was released last week.
- Child With Symptoms
- Return to School Q & A’s
These resources can be found under the NWHU resource list located on the left hand side of this page or directly on the COVID-19 and Schools NWHU Webpage.
School update regarding recent Covid-19 cases in Kenora area
Posted October 3, 2020 8:07PM
Covid-19 Screening Tool
You must screen for COVID-19 every day before going to school using Online Covid-19 Screening Tool
You can fill this out on behalf of a student.
Using this tool is optional and is not tracked or enforced. If your school board or public health unit has another screening process, you can use that instead.
Alternatively you may download the offline screening tool (this form has also been sent home with students).