Attendance creeps back up at schools with COVID-19 cases, but critics say communication should be better
CHERRY BROOK, N.S. -- Nova Scotia's response to COVID-19 cases in school is getting mixed grades.
Public health says it's safe to be in the buildings and, while attendance did improve on Wednesday, many students are still staying home.
Attendance was a bit better at Graham Creighton Junior High School in Cherry Brook and Auburn Drive High School in Cole Harbour two days after a case of COVID-19 was reported from each building.
"The high school, we were at over 50 per cent in attendance today, and at the junior high, we were over 30 per cent, so we saw about a doubling in attendance today when compared to yesterday," Education Minister Zach Churchill said Wednesday from Yarmouth.
Churchill is echoing what public health has declared -- that it is safe to go to school.
"I think we take our direction from public health and I think if Dr. Strang is telling us that they have provisions in place, then we have a high level of confidence in that," said Nova Scotia NDP MLA Claudia Chender. "But, clearly, that message is not being communicated properly."
Chender says the anxieties of families and teachers are not being handled properly, especially for students who have made the decision to stay away.
"And we don't have a sense that any of those children are having the appropriate educational supports being provided," Chender said.
Strang says a total of seven teachers at Graham Creighton and two at Auburn Drive have been deemed to be in close contact with the individuals who tested positive.
About 55 students between both buildings were also found in close contact and all are now supposed to be in self-isolation.
"Our COVID cleaning protocols have been in place and they have been executed every day," Churchill said. "And, to make families more confident, we sent in additional cleaners Tuesday night as well to make sure we're doing another deep dive clean to make sure students and parents and staff can be assured the appropriate cleaning protocols are taking place."