COVID-19 Back-to-School Supports

Last updated: September 16, 2021

Michael Garron Hospital (MGH) is helping children, families, schools and child care centres in East Toronto safely return to in-person learning this fall. If you are a parent, family member or staff member at a school or child care centre in MGH’s catchment area, please see the resources below to learn more about how we are supporting you during the COVID-19 pandemic.

For children, families and school/child care centre staff in East Toronto:

  • Take-home COVID-19 testing kits
  • COVID-19 Outreach Centres
  • Paediatric Emergency Department (ED) COVID-19 Assessment Zone
  • Supports if you or your family test positive for COVID-19
  • Pop-up vaccine clinics

For school/child care centre staff in East Toronto:

  • Toronto East School Support (TESS) forum
  • Infection Prevention and Control (IPAC) Champion program

If you, your child or someone in your household is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 or think you have been infected, please stay home, self-isolate and seek a COVID-19 test as soon as possible. Testing is available by appointment at the MGH COVID-19 Assessment Centre and MGH Paediatric ED COVID-19 Assessment Zone. Testing is available by drop-in at our COVID-19 Outreach Centres.

Take-home COVID-19 testing kits

Dr. Janine McCready
Dr. Janine McCready, infectious diseases physician at MGH, holds a take-home COVID-19 testing kit.

MGH is offering take-home COVID-19 testing kits to all public schools in its catchment area. In addition, we are proactively reaching out to independent schools and child care centres. Any of these settings that express interest will also receive the kits.

Our take-home testing kits are oral-nasal swabs that can be collected by staff, children and families at home. They can be dropped off at the MGH COVID-19 Assessment Centre or any of our COVID-19 Outreach Centres for processing. This helps make COVID-19 testing as easy and convenient as possible for staff, children and families who are experiencing symptoms or may have been exposed to COVID-19.

The take-home testing kits contain an oral-nasal test. The oral-nasal test involves rubbing the inside of the mouth and the front of the nose with a swab for less than five seconds. It is less invasive than the nasopharyngeal (NP) swab that is commonly used for COVID-19 tests. This helps increase the likelihood that children and youth will have pleasant testing experiences.

The oral-nasal test is a laboratory-validated polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test, not a rapid antigen test. This means a second test is not needed to confirm a positive result. Results should be available online within 24 to 72 hours.

MGH is distributing take-home testing kits to schools and child care centres in its catchment area before school starts. These take-home testing kits are used when someone has symptoms of COVID-19 or a class/cohort is sent home after another individual in the class/cohort has tested positive for COVID-19. Every kit comes with instructions for how to administer the test at home, where to drop it off for processing and how to get your results.

If you have a child or family member who attends a school or child care centre in MGH’s catchment area, please contact the school or child care centre directly to confirm if it has access to take-home testing kits from MGH. If you work at a school or child care centre in MGH's catchment area and would like to receive take-home testing kits, please contact @email

Watch the video below to learn more about how to administer an oral-nasal test at home:

COVID-19 Outreach Centres

A sign points clients toward the COVID-19 Outreach Centre in Crescent Town.
A sign points clients toward ETHP's COVID-19 Outreach Centre in Crescent Town, where drop-in testing and vaccines are available.

Our COVID-19 Outreach Centres offer drop-in COVID-19 testing, vaccinations and other supports, including child-friendly testing and assessments.

The Centres are staffed by local family physicians and nurses who you can trust to share reliable, evidence-based information about COVID-19 and vaccines. Take-home COVID-19 testing kits may also be dropped off at these sites for processing.

Children who visit our COVID-19 Outreach Centres receive an oral-nasal test. The oral-nasal test involves rubbing the inside of the mouth and the front of the nose with a swab for less than five seconds. It is less invasive than the nasopharyngeal (NP) swab that is commonly used for COVID-19 tests. This helps increase the likelihood that children and youth will have pleasant testing experiences.

The oral-nasal test is a laboratory-validated polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test, not a rapid antigen test. This means a second test is not needed to confirm a positive result. Results should be available online within 24 to 72 hours. This is the same test included in MGH’s take-home COVID-19 testing kits.

Our COVID-19 Outreach Centres are located in neighbourhoods like Thorncliffe Park, Flemingdon Park, Taylor-Massey (Crescent Town) and Warden Woods. See locations, hours and services at all COVID-19 Outreach Centres.

Paediatric Emergency Department (ED) COVID-19 Assessment Zone

A nurse stands outside of the paediatric ed covid-19 assessment zone holding a clipboard
A nurse stands outside MGH's Paediatric ED COVID-19 Assessment Zone, which offers a family-friendly environment for testing and assessments.

Our Paediatric Emergency Department (ED) COVID-19 Assessment Zone offers a family-friendly space for COVID-19 testing, as well as expedited paediatric ED assessments, for symptomatic children and families. It is open daily from 11:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. by appointment.

Appointments are available online up to 48 hours in advance for symptomatic children and their families. (Children must be at least four months old and under 18 years of age.) Individuals who need more than one appointment (e.g. for additional family members) may book one appointment and bring up to four family members to be tested at the same time if they meet the province's testing criteria. 

Children who visit our Paediatric ED COVID-19 Assessment Zone and general COVID-19 Assessment Centre receive an oral-nasal test. The oral-nasal test involves rubbing the inside of the mouth and the front of the nose with a swab for less than five seconds. It is less invasive than the nasopharyngeal (NP) swab that is commonly used for COVID-19 tests. This helps increase the likelihood that children and youth will have pleasant testing experiences.

The oral-nasal test is a laboratory-validated polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test, not a rapid antigen test. This means a second test is not needed to confirm a positive result. Results should be available online within 24 to 72 hours. This is the same test included in MGH’s take-home COVID-19 testing kits.

Book a testing appointment at our Paediatric ED COVID-19 Assessment Zone or general COVID-19 Assessment Centre.

If there are no appointments available for MGH's COVID-19 Assessment Centre and the Paediatric ED COVID-19 Assessment Zone, you may visit one of our COVID-19 Outreach Centres where testing is available by drop-in for individuals who are at least four months old. Children who visit our COVID-19 Outreach Centres receive an oral-nasal test.

Supports if you or your family test positive for COVID-19

Our infection prevention and control (IPAC) team is following up with everyone in our catchment area who tests positive for COVID-19 at one of our testing sites or through our take-home testing kits.

We offer symptom management and wraparound supports to those who need it. These supports include connections to local family physicians when possible and self-isolation resources like grocery delivery and governmental financial supports. This helps ensure you and your family have the supports you need for COVID-19 recovery.

In addition, we are working with local schools and child care centres to distribute take-home COVID-19 testing kits to exposed classes/cohorts or to organize other easy testing solutions. This helps prevent further COVID-19 transmission and outbreaks.

Our Virtual Ward is also exploring expanding its COVID-19 follow-up clinical support to individuals under 18 years of age who are at higher risk of complications.

If you, your child or someone in your household tests positive for COVID-19, please stay home and self-isolate. If you tested positive at one of MGH’s testing sites, our infection prevention and control (IPAC) team and Toronto Public Health will follow up with you by phone to provide symptom management and wraparound supports.

Pop-up vaccine clinics

COVID_19 vaccine administered at Thorncliffe Park Community Hub COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic
A client receives their COVID-19 vaccine at our mass immunization clinic at Thorncliffe Park Community Hub.

We continue to operate pop-up vaccine clinics in East Toronto. Many of these clinics take place at local schools to help ensure vaccines are as easy to access as possible for children and families.

These pop-up vaccine clinics offer first and second doses by drop-in to everyone born in 2009 or earlier (i.e. turning age 12 or older this year).

If you're eligible, we strongly encourage you to get vaccinated so you can help protect yourself and your loved ones from COVID-19. Book a vaccine appointment or see upcoming pop-up vaccine clinics in East Toronto.

Toronto East School Support (TESS) forum

Our Toronto East School Support (TESS) forum is a virtual town hall series where principals, teachers and child care workers in MGH’s catchment are able to ask questions related to COVID-19 and safety. They hear answers from Dr. Janine McCready, infectious diseases physician at MGH, in real-time.

This allows local educators to receive medical expertise and guidance in a safe, accessible way. This helps them apply guidelines from school boards and government bodies in a manner that’s effective and makes sense in their local settings.

The TESS forum is organized with support from East Toronto Family Practice Network (EasT-FPN). Principals, teachers and child care workers in MGH’s catchment area who are interested in participating should email @email.

MGH will participate in other community town halls organized by partners throughout the fall, including Health Access Thorncliffe Park’s (HATP) Back-to-School Forum for families in Thorncliffe Park and Flemingdon Park.

Infection Prevention and Control (IPAC) Champion program

Lisa Tsue, an educator at Grenoble Public School, is photographed wearing a mask and face shield.
Lisa Tsue, a special education resource teacher at Grenoble P.S., participated in MGH's IPAC Champion program in January 2021.

We’re reaching out directly to select priority schools and child care centres in East Toronto to offer an Infection Prevention and Control (IPAC) Champion program.

The program involves educators and administrative staff learning about IPAC best practices and principles so they’re able to become advocates or “champions” of IPAC. This allows these individuals to pass this knowledge onto their colleagues so, together, they may develop and improve strategies that further prevent and limit the spread of COVID-19 at schools.

This IPAC Champion program is adapted from a similar program that MGH conducted with long-term care homes in East Toronto during spring 2020. It was piloted at Grenoble Public School in January 2021.

Was this page helpful?