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COVID-19: What Students Need to Know (Lesson Updated Often!)

COVID-19: What Students Need to Know (Lesson Updated Often!)

Last Updated: April 01, 2021

This is part 1 of the COVID-19 Misinformation Toolkit for Parents and Kids.


The COVID-19 virus is officially a global pandemic, according to the World Health Organization. As a student, you might be worried about what that means and what you need to know in order to stay healthy. Make sure you revisit this lesson often, as this lesson is constantly updated as things change (You can check the last time this was updated by scrolling to the bottom and looking at the date). Here are some basic facts that you might need to know:

*The information below is tailored for Canadian students. For the most accurate information about where you live, check your local health authority.*


It's natural to feel worried; however, as of right now you are unlikely to get the virus.

If you live and study in Canada, as of right now you are very unlikely to get COVID-19. If you are outside of Canada, check your local public health organization for more information. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be careful, though, so washing your hands often is still very important. Keeping physical distance, and wearing masks are also important. The risk of getting the virus may change in the coming days and weeks.


If anything changes, you will know immediately. 

As an ongoing situation, recommendations and risks may change in the days and weeks ahead. You will know immediately if things change so that you can continue to be safe. What people need to do and how they do it depends on their location and other risk factors. So just because something is happening in one place doesn’t mean everyone needs to also do the same thing (but again, wash your hands! That applies to everyone).


There are many people around the world who are working very hard to keep students safe.

As a global pandemic, this is a very serious global situation. This is why there are many experts in Canada and around the world who are working hard to keep everyone safe.


Just because it’s always on the news doesn’t mean there’s an increase in risk

COVID-19 is on the news a lot and will continue to make the news for a while. Keep in mind that the amount of news coverage does not mean that there’s an increased risk or danger to you. So don’t worry just because it’s always on the news—if there is something that you need to do or change, your school and your government will let you know.


Why are schools open?

Scientists have so far learned that students and teachers can be safe in school as long as we try to keep our physical distance, wash our hands, and wear masks. This is because students like you are at low risk for getting the disease.


What is the new COVID-19 coronavirus?

The new COVID-19 coronavirus is a virus (type of germ) that causes lung infections in people.

This is the first time this exact coronavirus has caused illness in people, but doctors and scientists know of other coronaviruses.


Where did the new COVID-19 coronavirus come from?

We think that this coronavirus usually lives in bats. At first, a person was infected from an animal, but now the virus is spreading from one person to another.


What kind of illness does the new COVID-19 coronavirus cause?

The new coronavirus causes a respiratory (lung) infection. People who are sick with COVID-19 can have a fever or a cough. They may also have muscle aches or a sore throat. Some people may feel short of breath.

Most healthy people who are infected with the new coronavirus will have a mild illness like a cold. A smaller number will be more sick and will need to be in the hospital. Young people are more likely to have a mild illness.


How does coronavirus spread?

Coronavirus spreads the same way as other viruses that cause colds and flus. When people cough or sneeze, small droplets of liquid go into the air. If the person who is coughing or sneezing has the new coronavirus, there can be virus in those droplets that can make others sick.

One way that a person can get sick is by breathing in droplets that have virus in them when talking with or being close to someone who is sick. The other way is by touching something that droplets have landed on and then touching their mouth, nose or eyes. Sharing utensils and dishes (forks and spoons, water bottles, drink containers, cups) could also spread the virus from someone who is sick to someone who is not.


How can I avoid getting sick?

The best way to stay healthy is to wash your hands properly and often with soap and water. Washing your hands properly means using soap and water to wash for at least 20 seconds. If your hands look clean, you can use hand sanitizer with alcohol in it. If they have dirt or food or anything else on them, you should wash them with soap and water, because hand sanitizer might not work. If you have to cough or sneeze, try to do it into your elbow or a tissue, then wash your hands afterwards. These things help protect you from the new coronavirus and also from influenza, colds, and other illnesses.


What is physical distancing (social distancing)?

Physical distancing (or social distancing) helps stop the virus from spreading. This means a few things. You should stay at home when you’re sick, even if symptoms are mild. Even when healthy, you should avoid crowded places and non-essential gatherings. An example of physical distancing is keeping about two meters (six feet) or the length of a queen-sized bed apart from others. There are many ways to practice physical distancing including staying home as much as possible, using technology to keep in touch with friends and family, and exercising at home or outside alone. In public, keep about two meters (six feet) apart from others when possible, keep your hands at your sides, greet others with a wave instead of a handshake, a kiss or a hug, avoid crowded places and in-person gatherings, and limit contact with people at higher risk of getting sick (e.g. older adults and those in poor health).


What can I do to support a friend or classmate who is worried about the COVID-19 coronavirus?

It is normal for some of your friends and/or classmates to worry about something new that is happening. They may be worried about becoming sick themselves or worried about friends or relatives abroad.

You can help your friends and classmates by listening to their worries and sharing what you know. Let them know that it is very unlikely they will become sick. If you see anyone who is being bullied about coronavirus, ask an adult for help. If you need help, talk to a teacher, parent, or an adult that you trust.

When will the pandemic be over?

Right now, we don't know exactly when it will be over. However, we know that it won't be forever. People are starting to get vaccinated. The pandemic will be over eventually. In the meantime, it's important that we all do our part to help stop spread the virus by staying healthy and staying at home.