As we enter this year’s March Break, we want to take a moment to update you on changes in our schools beginning March 21, as well as recognize the hard work of our students and staff.
Beginning March 21, the province is moving into Phase 3 of its reopening plan. For our schools, this means changes as it relates to things like masking, cohorting, visitors, and large gatherings like graduations.
Public health continues to remind us to follow public health measures, including: get vaccinated, stay home if you are sick, self-isolate as directed by Public Health advice, wash and sanitize hands frequently, clean high-touch surfaces, and encourage masking. Updated public health guidance for schools is available on the Back to School website, at: https://novascotia.ca/backtoschool. Phase 3 details will be added to the website on March 21.
It is also important to remember to follow the self-isolation and testing requirements. More information can be found online at https://www.nshealth.ca/coronavirus.
Beginning March 21, masking will be optional in schools. We know that the removal of restrictions, including mandatory masks, may feel unusual, especially in the beginning. We want to encourage everyone to respect individual choices and treat each other with kindness and understanding as we all adjust.
While masking is optional, public health recommends wearing a mask indoors and on school buses. Whether staff or students choose to wear a mask or not, they will be supported in their decision. There is a good supply of 3-ply masks that will continue to be available for staff and students.
Public Health is recommending the use of rapid tests to help protect people at increased risk of severe disease, such as those who are older or immunocompromised. These people, and those who live with them or are around them, are encouraged to do occasional or regular rapid testing, even if they don’t have symptoms. Schools are at the heart of our communities, so rapid test kits will continue to be provided to students and staff on an ongoing basis, depending on supply from the federal government.
Public Health does not recommend testing for people who have recovered from COVID-19 within the past 90 days. Anyone who recovered in the past 90 days is asked to:
- not take rapid tests and leave supply for those who have not yet contracted COVID-19
- or take the rapid tests and give them to family or friends who need access to rapid tests
There is no requirement for class cohorting but schools will want to consider how to minimize congestion in common areas, making best use of available space, utilizing outdoor areas for learning and well-being as per existing best practices learned during the pandemic.
Non-essential visitors will be allowed into schools as appropriate beginning March 21. Visitors will not be required to show proof of vaccination.
Schools can begin planning graduation ceremonies as restrictions have lifted for large gatherings. However, communities are advised to remember that if public health restrictions need to be reimplemented, plans for large gatherings at the end of the school year may need to change accordingly.
Thank you for your efforts this school year, including the efforts of your children to learn and succeed during a pandemic. Like last year, we have experienced ongoing changes to our school routines due to COVID-19. We will continue to respond to the pandemic based on public health guidance and best practices as we learn to live with COVID-19.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to your child’s teacher or principal.
Regional Executive Director