TORONTO -- Toronto and Peel Region have made a major change to the list of COVID-19 symptoms that would force children to stay home from school and child-care.

Starting Dec. 7, Toronto Public Health and Peel Public Health will require that all students with one or more symptoms of COVID-19 stay home and get tested for the disease.

This now includes if a child only has a runny or stuffy nose or sore throat, breaking from the provincial recommendations. 

The Ontario government currently requires children with a runny nose or sore throat to stay home for 24 hours but they do not need a COVID-19 test to return if symptoms improve.

Toronto Public Health says if a student has one symptom of COVID-19 they will now have to stay home, self-isolate and get tested COVID-19. If they live with siblings in the same household, they must also self-isolate, even if they do not have symptoms.

If a child does not get a COVID-19 test, they must stay home for 10 days, regardless of if the symptoms improve. Adults must also stay home if they have one or more symptom of COVID-19.

The rules will be similar in Peel Region, where students who have a runny nose or sore throat are being advised to either get tested for COVID-19, self-isolate for 10 days (along with all household members if not tested), or consult a health-care provider to determine if there is another cause for the symptoms.

covid-19 symptom list

Peel Public Health said the change is being made to combat the escalating case numbers in the region.

"This change is necessary to strengthen our safeguards in schools and to protect our community from further spread of COVID-19," Peel Public Health told CTV News Toronto in a statement on Friday. "We know from our local data and experience globally that children are more likely to have mild symptoms than adults."

Peel Public Health said they have seen a high test positivity rate – more than 10 per cent – in younger age groups in the region.

The Ministry of Education told CTV News Toronto on Friday that the advice for the other regions will not be changing at this time. 

The COVID-19 symptom list includes:

  • Fever of more than 37.8°C or chills
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Loss of sense of smell or taste
  • Shortness of breath
  • Headache
  • Not feeling well, tired or sore muscles
  • Cough
  • Sore throat, trouble swallowing
  • Nausea or vomiting, diarrhea