Coming to SickKids? Learn what to expect
ahead of your appointment or stay.
SickKids is not a COVID-19 assessment centre. Contact Telehealth Ontario at 1-866-797-0000, your local public health unit or visit covid19.ontario.ca if you’re experiencing symptoms of COVID-19.
Complete your entrance self-screening online
On the day of your visit, complete our COVID-19 Self-Screening Form before arriving to get through our screening process as smoothly as possible. A form must be completed for the patient and anyone coming to SickKids with them.
Family presence & patient visitors
- One adult family caregiver may accompany patients anywhere in the hospital.
- For inpatient units (patients staying overnight on a unit), families may designate two caregivers to take turns caring for their child, but only one can be present at any given time.
- Siblings and other visitors are not allowed but some exceptions apply. We appreciate that this will require you to make childcare arrangements for any siblings, and we thank you for your support during this challenging time.
- Enter and exit SickKids using the Elizabeth Street entrance or the parking garage. All other entrances are closed until further notice.
- In addition to regular parking rates, SickKids offers discounted parking passes for parents of patients. Visit Parking for more information.
All patients, family caregivers and visitors will be screened for COVID-19 risk factors upon arrival.
If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms that we screen for at SickKids and have recently travelled internationally, please contact your clinic or health-care provider before coming to the hospital:
- Sore throat
- Runny nose
- Nasal congestion/stuffy nose
- Loss of taste or smell
- Difficulty swallowing
- Shortness of breath
- You can complete an online COVID-19 Self-Screening Form before you arrive.
- When you arrive, display your Self-Screening Form at a screening station.
- Please note: You will be asked additional screening questions when you reach your destination at SickKids (e.g., Emergency Department, clinic, inpatient unit).
Everyone age 6 and older is required to wear a hospital-provided mask at SickKids. We will provide you with a mask when you arrive at the hospital. This policy also applies to family caregivers, visitors, vendors, suppliers, and contractors.
- If patients of any age are not able to wear a mask safely, they will not have to. Younger children may be asked to wear a mask if they are COVID-19 positive or have COVID-19 risk factors (travel history, exposure to COVID-19, or symptoms) and can safely wear a mask.
- If you choose to wear a cloth mask or a mask with a filter, or exhalation valve, you will also have to wear a hospital-provided mask on top. Gloves are not allowed in the hospital - instead we ask that you clean your hands often with hand sanitizer.
- Mask exemption cards are not accepted at SickKids. Exceptions will only be considered for family caregivers with medical conditions that prevent them from safely wearing a mask and must be approved by the patient’s SickKids health-care team in advance.
Physical distancing is not always possible and wearing a mask helps to protect everyone at the hospital, including you and your child, from the spread of COVID-19.
Please review our frequently asked questions about family/caregiver and patient masking.
What is a universal masking policy?
A universal masking policy means that everyone age 6 and older coming into the hospital must wear a hospital-provided mask while inside. This policy also applies to staff, family caregivers, visitors, vendors, suppliers, and contractors.
If patients of any age are not able to wear a mask safely, they will not have to. Younger children may be asked to wear a mask if they are COVID-19 positive or have COVID-19 risk factors and if they can safely wear a mask.
Exceptions will only be considered for family caregivers with medical conditions that prevent them from safely wearing a mask and must be approved by the patient’s SickKids health-care team in advance.
Why is everyone being asked to wear masks at SickKids?
COVID-19 can be spread by people who do not have any symptoms or who do not realize they have the virus. Universal masking helps to prevent the spread of infection to other patients and to our staff, especially when physical distancing – staying two metres or six feet apart – is not possible.
How does wearing a mask help?
Masks can decrease the spread of COVID-19 in two ways:
- Wearing a mask helps protect others around you by limiting the spread of your droplets when coughing, sneezing, and speaking.
- Wearing a mask protects you by reducing the chance of inhaling droplets from others around you.
Can I wear my own mask or face covering? What about my child?
Not on its own. To ensure the safety of everyone at SickKids, we are providing masks at our entrances. Not all masks are the same – by providing our own masks we can be certain that the one you are wearing will offer the right amount of protection for you and our staff.
If you choose to wear your own mask, you will also have to wear a hospital-provided mask on top.
Where will I get a mask when I arrive at SickKids?
Entrance screening staff will ask you to clean your hands and then give you a mask. They will explain how to put it on properly. Clean your hands again after putting on your mask.
What if I can’t or don’t want to wear a mask?
Everyone age 6 and older is required to wear a hospital-provided mask at SickKids. This policy is to protect those around you who may be at a higher risk for severe illness due to COVID-19.
If you do not have, or do not qualify for an exception – you will not be allowed to enter SickKids without a mask.
If patients of any age are not able to wear a mask safely, they will not have to. If you are a family caregiver who has a legitimate medical condition that prevents you from wearing a mask, contact your SickKids health-care team before your appointment and request an exception. If approved, tell the screening staff that you have an exception, and they will give you a face shield to wear instead.
No exceptions to the Universal Masking Policy will be made for other types of visitors.
How do I safely put a mask on and take a mask off?
Our staff can teach you about wearing and removing masks. Have a look at this handy poster for a step-by-step guide to wearing and removing a mask properly and safely.
How can I be sure a mask fits properly?
Follow this checklist to ensure a mask fits properly:
- Fully covers your mouth and nose once the elastics are secure around ears
- Has minimal gaps between your face and the mask – the mask should fit tightly but not feel uncomfortable
- Does not need to be repositioned or adjusted while being worn
- Is easy to remove safely
A mask that does not fit well can compromise the safety of the person wearing the mask and those around them.
What should I do if my mask gets wet or dirty?
If your mask gets wet or dirty during your appointment, let your health-care team know that you need a new mask.
Can I remove my mask to eat or drink?
You may remove your mask to eat or drink while you are at the hospital if you are in an eating area or in a designated patient space where you can reliably distance from others 2 metres (or 6 feet). You must put on your mask on when a staff member enters the room and when you move from one area to another in the hospital.
What should be done with the mask if I need to take it off?
Masks must be worn at all times in the hospital - however you may remove your mask to eat or drink in eating areas or in designated patient spaces. Remove it safely and place it on a clean piece of paper towel or inside a plastic container. If you are changing to a fresh mask or leaving the hospital, be sure to dispose of your mask in a waste container.
Can I take my mask off once my appointment is over?
Please leave your mask on the entire time you are inside the hospital. If you need to take it off to eat or drink, or as part of your medical appointment, first wash your hands and then remove your mask carefully, without touching your face.
If you are taking public transit, a rideshare, or will be entering any indoor spaces on your way home from the hospital, you will need to be wearing a mask in accordance with the City of Toronto’s Mandatory Mask or Face Covering Bylaw.
My child is staying the night at the hospital. Do I have to wear a mask in the patient room?
Yes, you must wear a mask in your child’s single room if you are unable to maintain the physical distance of two metres from your child or a member of the health-care team.
Will all patients be asked to wear a mask at SickKids?
Masking for children depends on a lot of things including age, ability, willingness, and safety. We will mask patients age 6 and older, but if your child is not able or willing to wear a mask, they will not have to.
While some children older than 2 may be able to wear a mask safely, we will not mask children younger than 2 for safety reasons. Please discuss with your health-care provider if you have any questions.
If your child is COVID-19 positive or has any COVID-19 risk factors (travel history, exposure to COVID-19, or symptoms) and is 2 years or older, they will be required to wear a hospital-provided mask.
Why can’t children under the age of 2 wear masks?
It is understood that masking children under the age of 2 could be a safety risk for many reasons, including an increased risk of introducing germs to their face when touching or moving the mask and possible choking or strangulation.
My child has been asked to wear a mask. Where inside SickKids does it have to be worn?
If your child is at SickKids for a test, clinic visit or to go to the Emergency Department, the mask must be worn at all times due to limited space at the hospital and the difficulty of keeping two metres apart. Your child’s mask may be removed once they are in an assigned treatment space, but the mask must be on when a staff member is present.
If your child is staying overnight, they can remove the mask while they are in their own room. If they leave their room for any reason (e.g., a test in another department) they must put the mask back on.
What suggestions can you offer to help my child understand why wearing a mask is important for them and others?
Masks can be confusing to children, depending on their age. That is why we recommend age-appropriate explanations, play therapy and role modelling to help kids accept and wear their masks.
For older children, answer their questions in simple language that they will understand, saying masks will help stop COVID-19 from spreading and keep you safe. For younger children, try focusing on germs and how masks can help keep them away.
SickKids can also help with trained staff members who are able to talk to children and videos by our Child Life specialists related to masking and other topics.
How do I decide if my child is able and willing to wear a mask?
Caregivers know their children best, including what they can and cannot do.
- Do you think your child will want to touch or play with the mask?
- Is your child sensitive to new types of clothing/coverings?
If so, it may not be safe for them to wear a mask. It is important that children who are asked to wear masks follow the instructions for putting a mask on safely, which means not touching, adjusting, or playing with the mask because this reduces its effectiveness.
My child is older than age 6 and cannot wear a mask. What can I do?
We understand that not all children, regardless of age, will be able or willing to wear a mask. In certain cases, your health-care team will speak to you about alternatives.
What is important to know about children wearing masks?
Safety is the most important thing to consider when masking children, which is the reason we look at factors other than age. Safety risks include:
- increased difficulty breathing
- introducing germs to the face by frequently adjusting the mask
- reduced ability to communicate
- anxiety or fear
- greater risk for misidentification by health-care providers without facial recognition
Masks should not be used for children under age 6 who are not able to understand how to wear a mask or communicate if they become distressed. It is important that staff assess the child carefully and regularly and always ensure that patient identification arm bands are in place and used to confirm the child’s identity.
Coming to Emergency
Our Emergency Department does not test children without symptoms who are being discharged. Children with mild symptoms should go to an assessment centre to be tested.
Coming for Clinic
We've made changes to our clinic spaces and appointment processes to ensure everyone’s safety. Learn what you need to know before your next appointment.
While at SickKids, you’ll notice many new measures in place. Learn about changes to programs and services available during your overnight stay.
We recognize that delays caused by the COVID-19 situation have been difficult for patients and their families. To ensure that we have the capacity for any unplanned increase in hospital activity and that our clinical staff are available to provide care, SickKids will contact patients and families directly when it is time to reschedule surgeries and procedures that were postponed earlier in the pandemic — there is no need to contact the hospital at this time.
An ethics framework document and new waitlist management system was developed by our staff and family advisors to ensure we continue to treat patients fairly and equitably. The timing of surgeries and procedures will consider many factors to ensure patient needs are met in the safest and most timely manner possible.
SickKids never stopped treating patients who had urgent needs or emergencies. Our ethics framework will guide us in prioritizing the order patients are seen and treated. We will contact you with a new date as soon as we can.
We are committed to completing the care we started before it was interrupted by COVID-19 for all of our patients. If your child turned 18 during this time, there is no need to be concerned. Your health-care team will continue to care for your child until the surgery or procedure is finished, including any follow-up treatment or appointments that are necessary afterwards.
We will continue to offer virtual care first when possible, but if a surgery or other procedure needs to be performed, it will be necessary to come to the hospital. Safety is our number one priority at all times for everyone. For those coming to the hospital we are maintaining a number of safety measures to keep everyone healthy, including screening, testing, masking, physical distancing and visitor restrictions.
The safety measures in place and external factors can cause delays in getting inside the hospital. Your health-care team will advise you on how to best plan ahead.
We recognize the challenges associated with limiting visitors. Please discuss your situation with the health-care team and they will let you know if the policy allows for an exception. To apply for an exception or appeal a decision, contact the Office of Patient and Family Experience.
As of Oct. 8, 2020, pre-procedure testing must be performed at SickKids (except Haematology/Oncology patients) to ensure timely results, avoid delays and to keep everyone safe. Testing at community/satellite centres is no longer available. We recognize the added burden this will place on some patients and families.
If you are concerned about the distance and costs involved, please reach out to your SickKids social worker for support. If you do not have a SickKids social worker, you can contact our Resource Navigation team regarding resources and to determine if you qualify for financial assistance. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 416-813-6787 or 416-813-8548.
Our staff are trained to deal with children who are anxious. Your health-care team can also connect you with our Child Life Specialists, who have a number of programs in place and prepared videos to help your child feel comfortable at all times at SickKids. You can also refer to the AboutKidsHealth COVID-19 Learning Hub for resources.
The safety of patients, families and staff is our number one priority. Together with the Ministry of Health and Toronto Public Health, we will closely monitor our progress at all times before deciding to increase or decrease clinical activity.
As a teaching hospital, we play an important role in training the next generation of paediatric health-care providers. We have slowly welcomed learners back to the hospital. Learners working in clinical environments have been provided with training on how to safely use personal protective equipment (PPE) and will be supervised by SickKids staff to ensure all safety measures are followed.
We are gradually resuming our volunteer services in a phased approach, but unable to recruit new volunteers at this time due to the pandemic.
Patient & family resources
Developed by SickKids experts, this learning hub includes parent and caregiver resources on COVID-19 and how to support your child's mental health and general wellbeing. Topics include COVID-19 and immunocompromised kids, talking to your child about COVID-19, coping with stress and much more.
- How to talk to your child about COVID-19
- Supporting your child with a neurodevelopmental disorder through the COVID-19 crisis
- Coping with separation from family and friends during COVID-19By SickKids staff
- Stressed adults and anxious young children: Supporting infants, toddlers and preschoolers through COVID-19
- Is my child or adolescent feeling stressed about COVID-19?