Nova Scotia Parents Question Communication Around COVID-19 In Schools

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HALIFAX –

If Angela Khan rated her children’s public health and school on her communication around school closings and reopens, she would give a 50% mark.

When her children’s Dartmouth South Academy school closed due to COVID-19 a week ago, parents were notified at 7:30 p.m. on a Sunday evening. They were also informed by email that the tests were “highly recommended”.

A week later, the parents were also informed around 5:30 p.m. Sunday that school would resume the next day. They sent an email that said:

“As a reminder, public health strongly recommends that all students and staff get tested for COVID-19. Your child should have a negative test result on October 23 or 24 before returning to school.”

“It seemed like maybe it said not to come to school if you didn’t test negative,” Khan said. “It made some people wonder if you only got one negative, but they didn’t get two, can they still send their kids to school?”

It was all confusing given that last week clarified testing was highly recommended but not mandatory, citing the logistical challenges and monitoring challenges it would entail.

Dartmouth South Academy was one of three schools closed last week in Halifax. The Joseph Howe School and the Sea and World School are scheduled to reopen on Tuesday.

Nova Scotia Parents for Education has asked the province to release more information on cases of COVID-19 in schools and the rationale for decisions to close schools.

“There could be a lot more communication and we could be treated as active citizens rather than panicked parents,” Deborah McNamara said with the group. “I think in most cases parents just want the information so they can prepare.”

Jenna MacQueen, spokesperson for the Nova Scotia Department of Education, said the province understands parents are worried and want as much information as possible.

“Public health is working hard to strike an appropriate balance between providing the public with information about COVID-19 exposures in schools and protecting privacy while minimizing the risk of stigma,” MacQueen said.

Meanwhile, in New Brunswick, its dashboard shows 38 schools are currently affected by COVID-19, which means a portion of the student body is learning at home due to self-isolation or demands. to perform point-of-care testing following a confirmed case at school.

Jenna Morton lives near Salisbury. Every day she wonders if the next school with a suitcase will be the one her children go to.

“I wake up and immediately check my emails to see whether or not they should stay home,” Morton said.

Her twin sons in Grade 3 and daughter in Grade 5 can’t wait to celebrate Halloween at school.

“They’re going to allow the kids to dress up on the Friday before Halloween,” Morton said.

“We have the option of sending treats if they are individually wrapped and safe in this regard.”

In Nova Scotia, the province has said Halloween celebrations are the responsibility of the principal of each school, as he or she is responsible for ensuring that public health measures are followed.

“I expect we will receive one-on-one communications from individual teachers this week on their plans for Halloween. They generally tend to try and celebrate it in class,” Khan said.


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