Masks no longer required in Nova Scotia public schools next week
Starting next week, students and staff will no longer be required to wear masks in Nova Scotia public schools.
The Nova Scotia government announced Thursday that the mask mandate will be removed in public schools on Tuesday.
Education and Early Childhood Development Minister Becky Druhan said, while not required, masks are still recommended, and anyone who chooses to wear a mask in school will be supported.
"Throughout the pandemic, we've worked closely with public health and taken steps to keep staff and students safe," said Druhan in a news release.
"We strongly encourage students and staff to continue to wear masks, and we will continue to support staff and students as well as continue to supply masks and hand sanitizer."
Druhan said the mask mandate has helped public schools mitigate the impact of the sixth wave of COVID-19, but as the weather warms up, it’s time to make masks optional.
She noted that some classes can be held outside and the province’s COVID-19 data and school attendance are both improving.
Druhan also pointed out that all other Canadian provinces have removed mask mandates in schools.
She said students, staff and visitors to schools should continue to stay home if they’re not feeling well, get vaccinated if eligible, and wash and sanitize often.
Nova Scotia lifted most of its COVID-19 restrictions, including mask mandates in most public places, on March 21. However, the province chose to keep the mask mandate in public schools, and extended the mandate in April.
MIXED FEELINGS ON MASKS
The Nova Scotia Teachers Union says teachers and other school staff members have mixed feelings about Thursday's announcement.
"While many are looking forward to a return to normalcy, many also remain extremely concerned about the safety of vulnerable students, colleagues, family members, and themselves," said the NSTU in a statement to CTV News.
"From an NSTU perspective, Omicron continues to be a major pressure in schools when it comes to staffing. Substitutes remain very difficult to find and NSTU members continue to consistently go without prep time to cover for unfilled absences by staff daily."
The NSTU says it is concerned that dropping the mask mandate in schools will only exacerbate these issues.
In its weekly COVID-19 report on Thursday, the province announced 24 more deaths related to COVID-19, which is six more than the number of deaths reported last week. The number of new cases and hospitalizations has dropped, however. Nova Scotia reported 59 new hospitalizations and 2,513 new lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Thursday.
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