26 Nova Scotia schools have at least one COVID-19 case
Stacey Rudderham says it's been a frustrating week, as she and other parents throughout the province raised their voices, calling on the province to release information on schools affected by COVID-19 for this school year.
Rudderham says it's information that's important for parents, staff, and the wider community.
"There are substitute teachers that are moving around from school to school that haven't been notified, there are other school specialists that share resources across multiple schools that haven't been notified," she says.
She's part of a volunteer group of concerned parents, Nova Scotia Parents for Public Education, that saw its Facebook membership grow by thousands after it started compiling its own list of COVID-19 notifications at schools.
In the wake of the resulting public pressure, the province began publishing its daily school update Tuesday – a list of schools with at least one COVID-19 exposure in the past 30 days, organized by notification date.
Twenty-six schools are on the list, including schools in the CSAP and Annapolis Valley Regional Centre for Education -- but most of the schools are in the HRCE.
Five schools on the list are now practicing what the province calls "enhanced public health measures," which include:
- closing to non-essential visitors
- limiting extra-curricular activities
- minimizing movement within the school and among classes
- enhanced cleaning evenings and weekends.
But for parent Roxy Webb, the situation is, "still alarming."
Her daughter attends Charles P Allen High School in Bedford and received notification of a COVID-19 exposure at the school this past Sunday. She says the exposure dates included the previous week of school, during which her daughter had attended classes.
Webb says her daughter is fully vaccinated, but the exposure notification is still worrying.
This year, the province's back to school plan doesn't include closing schools for deep cleaning or contact tracing, while schools in other Maritime provinces have done so this fall.
Webb says her child would feel better if Nova Scotia did the same.
"Especially for somebody who does have anxiety and she didn't really want to return to school."
"That two-day approach really created a sense of trust and confidence," says the head of the Nova Scotia Teachers Union, Paul Wozney.
Wozney says bringing that back would help alleviate some of the anxiety. He says because there are many students too young to be vaccinated, keeping certain precautions in place is prudent.
"It just makes sense for us to treat schools as a distinct population and to have a set of protections for them, until such time as we can achieve the kind of vaccination that we can have in the general population," he says.
Since the fourth wave began, 123 of the 673 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the province have been among individuals under 12 years old, according to the province.
That's one reason Stacey Rudderham would like the masking protocol to remain in place. She would also like to see increased asymptomatic testing in the province, to catch more cases.
"I just don't think that we're really in a position to move to Phase Five," she says.
The province is scheduled to provide an update on Nova Scotia's reopening plan at a news conference Wednesday at 3 p.m.