February 23, 2021
Testing in Schools and in the Community
As the COVID-19 situation continues to evolve in Ottawa, it is more important than ever that everyone who needs to be tested does so. Testing is the only way to confirm if you have COVID-19 or not — do not rely on someone else’s negative result as reassurance for yourself.
Throughout 2021, OPH has worked with partners to offer onsite testing at schools, particularly to improve access to testing where there are a large number of high-risk contacts, as well as when we are seeking more information about potential transmission in a school. On February 18, OPH published a special focus report regarding School-Based COVID-19 Rapid Testing Clinics. OPH will continue to work closely with local schoolboards to support and prevent COVID-19 outbreaks within a school setting. The goal is to prevent COVID-19 spread at home, in our schools and in our community, and ultimately keep our classes and schools open for in-person learning.
Any person in our community experiencing even just one symptom is encouraged to seek testing right away. Getting a COVID-19 test is fast, efficient and easy. Appointments for testing are often available the same or next day. Turnaround time for test results has also been quick, with 75 per cent of results received within 24 hours and 97 per cent within 48 hours. Adults can use the Workplaces and Post-Secondary Institutions screening tool.
Testing is critical to our public health response — knowing how much the virus is circulating in the community, preventing further spread and getting the virus under control will help prevent further transmission and future lockdowns.
Visit OttawaPublicHealth.ca/COVIDtesting for more information.
Single-symptom Screening for Students
On Friday, the province updated its COVID-19 screening tool to include changes to sibling/household isolation information. As a reminder, everyone in your household should stay home if anyone has COVID-19 symptoms or is waiting for test results after experiencing symptoms. OPH’s COVID-19 Screening Tool for School or Child Care can be found online here. You must screen for COVID-19 every day before going to school, child care or work.
The province has directed that a more rigorous and cautious approach be adopted to support a more comprehensive and enhanced school and child care screening program. Staff, students and children with any new or worsening symptom of COVID-19, even those with only one symptom, must stay home until:
- They receive a negative COVID-19 test result;
- They receive an alternative diagnosis by a health care professional; or
- It has been 10 days since their symptom onset and they are feeling better.
Parents and guardians are reminded to use the OPH Screening Tool to help make decisions about whether their child can attend school/child care. This screening tool should be completed daily, for each individual child separately, before attending school/child care.
Mental Health and the Business Community
COVID-19 has been very difficult for local businesses and it’s important to take care of our mental health during such challenging times. OPH has developed specific resources to support businesses and promote mental health in the workplace. These resources can be found at ottawapublichealth.ca/COVIDMentalhealth.
Next week is Black Mental Health Week, which runs from March 1st to March 7th. OPH is an active and proud member of the Ottawa Black Mental Health Coalition with over 20 Black leaders comprised of key stakeholders, community members, academics, health and social service providers, and other partners who are embedded within the mental health and social service sector, all of whom are committed to removing the systemic barriers that exist within our health system. The Coalition has organized a series of events marking Black Mental Health Week to identify system changes that will improve the mental health and well-being of Black residents in Ottawa. More information about these events can be found here.
In addition, OPH and The Royal Mental Health Centre have collaborated to produce the “Protecting Your Mental Health” series to help protect and promote mental health in our community. Please share these resources widely within your networks.
Real People, Real Stories
The stories behind COVID-19 help us understand the impact of the virus on a human level. OPH is working with members of the community and different healthcare providers to share their stories about how COVID-19 has impacted them. No two stories are the same.
In the first video of the series, OPH spoke with Ottawa radio personality, Jeff Hopper, who shares the heartbreaking story of losing his father to COVID-19 and then being hospitalized with the virus shortly after. Please share Jeff’s story and continue being COVIDWise.
Vaccine Myths and Misinformation
Vaccines are a safe and reliable way of protecting you and your loved ones from vaccine preventable diseases. As such, vaccine confidence is an important focus for OPH and the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines has generated many questions from residents. Vaccine misinformation is widespread and can be a deterrent to vaccine uptake.
Last week, the Ontario Medical Association hosted presentations by Ontario medical professionals regarding the proliferation of mistrust and misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines online. The session is available online for viewing.
OPH also has several resources online to help counter myths and misinformation regarding vaccines and has more information regarding the distribution of COVID-18 vaccines in Ottawa here. Ottawa Public Health’s Youtube channel is continuously being updated with new content. Information videos are included below. Please share widely within your community.
As a reminder, OPH’s Daily COVID-19 Dashboard is the number one resource for up-to-date information on COVID-19 in Ottawa. Data found in the dashboard includes case status in Ottawa, time trends & exposures, outbreaks and monitoring indicators.
The dashboard also reports the number of vaccines received and administered in Ottawa to-date. This data is updated every Monday, Wednesday and Friday whereas the dashboard is updated daily at approximately 12:30. To receive an email notification when it is updated, please scroll to the bottom of the page, click “Receive Email Updates…” and confirm your subscription.
Thank you for your ongoing support and cooperation during this time. It will be several months until COVID-19 vaccines are available to the general public. In the meantime, it is essential that we continue to practice public health measures to help reduce the transmission of COVID-19 in our community.