OTTAWA -- Parents frustrated at trying to send their kids back to school once they have recovered from the coronavirus—or from experiencing non-COVID-related symptoms—have a new tool at their disposal.

“Many schools or childcare providers are denying entry to service without a medical certificate or proof of a negative COVID-19 test, which is not recommended by OPH,” a special statement from medical officer of health Dr. Vera Etches said on Monday.

To help deal with this problem, Ottawa Public Health has developed a new letter for families with children returning to school following illness. Parents can fill it out and send it with their kids when they go back to school.

The Attestation for Return to School for Students Following Illness letter, available online, allows the parent to affirm their children may return to school for one of the following four reasons:

  • My child’s symptoms are not new and have not changed. My child was previously seen by a doctor or nurse practitioner and was diagnosed with a chronic condition, such as allergies or asthma, with the exact same symptoms my child has now.
  • We took my child to a doctor or nurse practitioner during the time that my child was sent home or denied entry to school. The doctor or nurse practitioner told us that another diagnosis (medical reason) other than COVID-19 explains my child’s symptoms (why my child was feeling sick).
  • My child did NOT have a COVID-19 test but completed 14 days of self-isolation from the date when my child started to feel sick and has not had a fever for 3 full days and is feeling better.
  • My child had a negative COVID-19 test after starting to feel sick AND has NOT felt sick for at least 24 hours (or 48 hours if the child had vomiting or diarrhea) AND has NOT been told by Ottawa Public Health or a healthcare provider to continue to self-isolate for a total of 14 days because my child was a close contact of a person with COVID-19.

“OPH trusts parents’ assessment of their child’s health related to known underlying conditions,” Etches said in the special statement.

Ottawa Public Health does not require a negative test result or a medical certificate for those who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 to return to school after they have isolated for 14 days and are symptom-free.

For parents unsure whether they should send their kids to school, Ottawa Public Health has a screening tool on its website.