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Infections, Illnesses and Diseases

Schools involve a large part of the population who are often in close proximity to one another and are therefore settings where infections, illnesses and diseases can spread quickly. Through infection control support for the school, curriculum supports for the teachers, school vaccine clinics for the students, and helpful information for the parents, we can minimize the spread of diseases in these settings.

The Health Unit can offer supports to schools through the School Public Health Nurse (PHN) role and/or a member of our Infectious Disease Team.

School Public Health Nurses can:

  • Support a comprehensive school health approach to infection control, such as
    • Helping to find age appropriate classroom activities.
    • Supporting the Infection Control component of the SHSM (Specialist High Skills Major) program.
    • Answering basic questions regarding common infections, illnesses and diseases.
    • Supporting the school based immunization clinics.
    • Connecting the school to our Infectious Disease Team, as appropriate.

Infectious Diseases Team Public Health Nurses can:

  • Answer disease specific questions.
  • Help manage a confirmed outbreak situation in the school.
  • Provide advice on cleaning and infection control practices.

What Works?

The prevention of infections, illnesses and diseases in schools can best be achieved by:

  • Infection control policies that are regularly communicated to staff and families.
  • Encouraging sick students and staff to stay home (and to seek medical attention when necessary).
  • Keeping a supply of alcohol-based hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes.
  • Teaching good hand washing practices.
  • Teaching age appropriate infection control practices and reinforcing these practices through role modelling.
  • Cleaning and disinfecting classroom materials and surfaces regularly, and as per school board policies.
  • Providing reminders in daily announcements about preventing the spread of germs and illnesses.
  • Adopting healthy practices, such as safe handling of food and the use of standard precautions when handling bodily fluids and excretions.
  • Encouraging students and staff to get an annual flu shot.
  • Facilitating and supporting school based immunization clinics to optimize student uptake.
  • Facilitating and supporting the implementation of the Immunization of School Pupils Act requirements.

Infection Control Resources for the Classroom

Within this section of our website you will find a variety of infection control resources, including; hand hygiene activities and videos.

SHSM Infection Control Presentation

Contact your School Public Health Nurse to book the presentation.

This is a presentation that your school nurse can support in order to meet the compulsory course requirement of the Health and Wellness SHSM.

Childhood Diseases and Infections

Information on some childhood illnesses and infections can be found on the Canadian Pediatric Society’s Caring for Kids website. Diseases that must be reported by the Principal to the Health Unit are marked in on the Reportable Diseases poster, and with an asterisk (*) on the Childhood Diseases webpage.

Preventing and Managing Illnesses in Child Care Centres Manual

Child care centre owners and staff play an important role in protecting children from, and minimizing the impact of, infection and illness. This manual will help you strengthen your child care centre’s infection control program and assist child care staff to:

  • Prevent infections from occurring and spreading
  • Identify and control illnesses and outbreaks
  • Know when to contact the Health Unit about an illness or outbreak
  • Communicate with parents about an illness or outbreak

This manual also contains useful forms, schedules and posters to help you implement appropriate infection controls. Please share this manual with all staff and keep it handy for quick reference.

Chicken Pox Reporting Form

Use the Chickenpox Reporting Form to report the total number of chickenpox cases in your school each month.


Students aged 4–17 attending school in Ontario must be immunized according to Ontario’s Publicly Funded Immunization schedule. Being fully immunized protects students against many diseases that are easily spread in schools.

The following links will take you to information on some common childhood infections, illnesses and diseases. For more specific questions, please contact your school nurse and they will link you with a member of our Infectious Diseases Team.

Ticks Information

Visit our Insect Bites and Diseases section of our website to learn more about ticks.

Rabies Information

Visit our Rabies section of our website to learn more about animal bites and scratches.

Head Lice Information

The Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit’s role is to provide information on head lice to educators and parents. Parents should check their child’s head regularly for head lice and nits in order to start treatment as soon as possible.

Anyone 24 years and under who has OHIP coverage and is not covered by a private plan is covered by OHIP+. Many head lice treatments are included in this coverage with a prescription.

Caring for Kids Website

Information for parents from Canada’s paediatricians.