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Parents and Students

Learn about preventing communicable diseases in schools this year.
Last updated: September 13, 2023

Students, staff, and others can take preventive actions to reduce the spread of communicable diseases in K-12 school settings. Students can attend school safely when we work together to follow public health recommendations.

  • Everyone stays up to date on all vaccinations including COVID-19 and influenza.
  • Schools implement and update communicable disease plans.
  • Students, staff and parents/caregivers follow school communicable disease plans. 
  • Regions provide additional guidance when there is greater risk in a community.
The current public health guidance for schools for the 2023/24 school year:

Preventing illness in schools
Attending school in person is important for a student’s education and well-being. Every school in B.C. has a communicable disease plan that details what they must do to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Plans include multiple layers of protection.

What schools are doing

  • Ensuring ventilation systems are working effectively
  • Providing frequent opportunities for hand cleaning
  • Regular cleaning and disinfection
  • Following food safety practices and any requirements of regulated food services
  • Sharing evidence-based information on vaccination and promoting vaccination opportunities
  • Ensuring students, staff and visitors are aware they should not come to school if they are sick and unable to participate fully in routine activities

These plans also support staff, students and their families to practice personal prevention measures like monitoring for symptoms of illness and staying home when sick.

Frequently Asked Questions

The decision to wear a mask should be based on personal choice.
Attending school safely
Students and families can also help prevent the spread of communicable diseases in schools by practising personal prevention measures.

Get vaccinated

Vaccines are important tools to protect against serious outcomes of many communicable diseases, such as COVID-19 and influenza. Students are encouraged to stay up to date on all recommended vaccines for communicable diseases.

Learn more

Health awareness

Health Checks mean monitoring yourself or your child for symptoms of illness. 

Stay home when sick

  • If a student is sick or has symptoms of illness and is unable to fully participate in regular activities, they should stay home.
  • They can return when they feel well enough to participate in regular activities or when a healthcare provider advises they can return.
  • Those experiencing certain illnesses, such as gastrointestinal illness caused by norovirus, may be advised to stay home for longer.
  • You can also consult a health care provider or call 8-1-1 or visit HealthLink BC for advice.  

Clean hands

Clean your hands often. This means washing your hands with soap and water or using hand sanitizer. 

Respiratory etiquette

Students should practice good respiratory etiquette, including:
  • Cough or sneeze into their elbow or a tissue. Throw away used tissues and immediately perform hand hygiene.
  • Refrain from touching their eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Refrain from sharing any food, drinks, unwashed utensils, cigarettes, or vaping devices.  


Masks may provide some protection to you, and to those around you. The decision to wear a mask should be based on personal choice.  

Some students and staff may choose to wear mask or face covering throughout the day or for certain activities. The choice of students to practice additional personal prevention measures should be respected.

See the Masks page for more information on how to use a mask properly.

Sickness in schools

Students who are sick or have symptoms of illness and are unable to fully participate in regular activities, should stay home.

Students who develop symptoms of illness at school and are unable to participate in regular activities will be supported to go home until their symptoms have improved or otherwise advised by a healthcare provider. 

Precautions should be taken while the person is preparing to leave the school premises, including use of appropriate hand hygiene and cleaning/disinfection of surfaces soiled with bodily fluids. They may use a mask if they are experiencing respiratory symptoms.

Students and staff are encouraged to notify their school if an absence is due to illness. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Your child can continue to attend school if someone in your household is sick, as long as they don’t have any symptoms of illness themselves. 

If your child is a contact of someone, like a classmate, who tests positive or feels unwell, they do not need to stay home unless they develop symptoms. If your child feels unwell, keep them home until they feel well enough to return to regular activities.
Let the school know your child will be absent and indicate that the absence is because of illness.

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