Public school students across the province will return to class on Tuesday, Sept 8.
The back to school plan is supported by public health, the IWK Health Centre and education partners.
“Children need safe and supportive learning environments and that means being back in school with their peers,” said Zach Churchill, Minister of Education and Early Childhood Development. "Our plan supports the full, safe return of students and staff, while allowing us to adapt how students will learn if anything changes.”
Developed with survey feedback from more than 28,000 parents and students, and input from union and education partners, the plan outlines public health guidelines and enhanced safety measures for students and staff. It also includes measures to enhance student learning.
“Our current epidemiology shows that virus activity remains low in the province and education leaders have developed a plan with appropriate public health measures for returning to the classroom,” said Dr. Robert Strang, chief medical officer of health. “I’m comfortable with our schools reopening and my public health team and I will continue to work with education leaders to keep our students, teachers and other school staff safe.”
While overall, learning at-home during the spring went well, parents said there were some challenges, like access to technology. Government has invested $4 million to secure 14,000 computers to support student learning for those with limited or no access to technology.
In September, students, families and staff can expect:
- Regional Centres for Education and the Conseil scolaire acadien provincial will have plans to support enhanced cleaning, physical distancing and situations specific to schools in their area
- classrooms to be reorganized to increase spacing
- treating a class as a bubble, to minimize contact with other students
- enhanced cleaning on school buses. All school bus riders and drivers will need to wear a mask
- all staff and students in high school will be required to wear a mask in school spaces where social distancing is not possible, for example hallways and common areas. Students and staff do not have to wear a mask in class, unless they want to, or if they are working with a student whose individual program plan requires a mask be worn
- regular handwashing or hand sanitizing by students and staff before entering school for classes and throughout the day
- in-school assemblies and other large gatherings will not be permitted
- cafeterias and school food programs will deliver food to students. Students will eat lunch at their desks
- students will have the opportunity to engage in all subject areas, although some subject areas may look different
The plan includes contingencies if it becomes necessary to adjust based on public health advice.
Government has a back to school plan with the appropriate public health measures to support the return of students and staff. Pediatricians across the province agree with this direction because the best place for our children and youth is in school, where they can receive enhanced learning, mental, social and physical well-being, and school support services such as breakfast programs. During the Pandemic, our Provincial Pediatric Advisory Group will continue to review worldwide evidence and work with parents, education and public health leaders to ensure we reduce COVID risks and promote student well-being.
Dr. Andrew Lynk, chief of pediatrics, IWK Health Centre, Halifax
Nova Scotia back to school plan: https://novascotia.ca/coronavirus/docs/back-to-school-plan.pdf
Back to school plan executive summary: https://novascotia.ca/coronavirus/docs/back-to-school-plan-executive-summary.pdf
What We Heard: A summary of results from parent and student learning at home surveys: https://novascotia.ca/coronavirus/docs/education-what-we-heard.pdf