Communicable Disease Prevention in K-12 Schools

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Communicable disease activity at school

Communicable diseases circulate in our communities. As long as cases occur within our communities, K to12 students and staff members may be affected. Schools have communicable disease prevention measures in place and will contact public health if they have concerns about communicable disease transmission within schools and require additional support.

Prevention measures

Prevention measures are in place to reduce the spread of communicable diseases. These include effective personal practices like health awareness, staying home when sick and regular hand cleaning. All students and staff should:

Online and homeschooling programs are available to students if alternative learning options are needed.

Health awareness

Health awareness reduces the likelihood of a person coming to school when they are sick. This includes checking regularly for symptoms of illness to make sure you or your child don’t come to school while sick.

Students, staff and other adults should follow public health guidance and the recommendations of their health care provider when they are sick. Health information is also available from Healthlink BC or by calling 8-1-1.


The decision to wear a mask or face covering is a personal choice for everyone. People can choose to continue to wear a mask throughout the day or during specific activities. This choice will be supported and treated with respect. 

Communicable disease guidelines

The Provincial Communicable Disease Guidelines for K-12 School Settings are developed by the Ministry of Education and Child Care, in collaboration with the B.C. Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC), Indigenous rightsholders and education partners, including teachers, parents and school leaders.

These guidelines build on public health guidance, and are used by boards of education, independent school authorities and schools to support communicable disease prevention planning.


School districts will ensure heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems are designed, operated and maintained to Occupational Health and Safety and WorkSafeBC standards.

Expert guidance is being applied to improve indoor air quality and reduce the risk of virus transmission.

Cleaning and disinfecting schools

Regular cleaning and disinfection can help prevent the spread of communicable diseases. General cleaning of schools will occur regularly, with frequently touched surfaces cleaned in line with regular practices and when visibly dirty.

Communicable disease protocols 

Students and staff who become sick at school

If a student or staff member develops symptoms at school:   

  • Make arrangements for student/staff to go home as soon as possible.
  • Schools will have an area where people are separated from their classmates or colleagues and can wait comfortably
  • Younger children will be supervised when separated
  • Students may choose to wear a mask if they are experiencing respiratory symptoms.
  • The student’s parent or guardian will be contacted and asked to have their child picked up as soon as possible
  • Staff will be asked to go home as soon as possible
  • Custodial staff will clean and disinfect the areas the person used
  • The person should stay home and follow public health advice on when to return to activities. Most people can return to school when their symptoms have improved and they feel well enough to participate in regular activities.   

Public health orders

Public health orders may be put in place for the province, entire regions or certain communities. This can include schools, or specific settings or activities.

Public health orders are implemented at the discretion of the local Medical Health Officer or the Provincial Health Officer in response to the broader risk of communicable disease transmission in the community.

In and outside the classroom

School visitors

Schools can follow normal practices for welcoming visitors and the community use of schools. Visitors and community groups using school premises should follow applicable communicable disease presentation measures, including staying at home when sick. After-hours use of school facilities is determined by school districts, independent school authorities or schools.

Added supports for students

Indigenous students

The ministry fully respects the jurisdiction of First Nations and their right to make their own decisions about First Nations schools. Visit the First Nations Schools Association website for the latest updates.

Mental health

Resources on Mental Health for K-12 are available on the erase website.

Education programs

Parents have options for their child’s education. Talk to your local school district or independent school authority about specific options and program or course details. Learn more about classroom alternatives here:

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