Infection prevention and control measures during outbreaks

Infection prevention and control measures during outbreaks

Schools follow infection control measures as part of their daily operations. During an outbreak, some measures may need to be adjusted or enhanced. These may include: 

1.      Exclusion of Ill Students and/or Staff

Students and/or staff should stay at home when they have:

  • Symptoms of an enteric illness, including vomiting and/or diarrhea, and until their symptoms have been resolved for at least 48 hours
  • Symptoms of a respiratory illness, including fever, cough, sore throat, congestion, runny nose, or sneezing until they are fever-free and feeling better without the use of medication for 24 hours.

During an outbreak, staff should be watchful in monitoring students for symptoms of illness.  Students and staff are encouraged to self-screen for symptoms of illness before attending school. Students can return to school after they have completed their period of exclusion/isolation and should continue to follow public health measures when planning to resume regular activities.

2.      Cohorting of Ill Students

If possible, ill students should be kept in a separate, supervised area that can be easily cleaned and disinfected, until a parent or guardian takes them home.

3.      Cleaning and Disinfection

Routine cleaning and disinfection are essential to prevent the spread of germs. During outbreaks, you may need to take additional measures, including, but not limited to, the following:

4.      Hand Hygiene

Hand hygiene is essential for all staff and students to prevent the spread of germs. Young children should be supervised when performing hand hygiene to ensure it is done properly. Hand hygiene includes both hand washing and hand sanitizing and should be done more frequently during outbreaks.

You must ensure that:

  • Hands are washed with liquid soap and running water for at least 15 seconds if visibly soiled
  • Hands should be rubbed with 60-90% alcohol-based hand sanitizers for at least 15 seconds if not visibly soiled.

More information on how to perform hand hygiene for children and infants can be found on

Printable hand hygiene resources by OPH are available below under “hand hygiene resources”.

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