N.S. to release daily details on schools affected by COVID-19 starting Tuesday
Elizabeth Guitard kept her kids home from school Monday, concerned over the growing list of COVID-19 exposures linked to Nova Scotia schools.
"I wonder how many we don't know about, since the ones we are seeing aren't from the government," she says.
Rather, the list has been compiled and distributed on social media by a volunteer parents' group, Nova Scotia Parents for Public Education.
Guitard says it's information she really needed, as the parent of three children too young to be vaccinated, and one who is immunocompromised.
"It's like a minefield," she says, "you send them in, you know there's mines, but you don't know where they are."
Late Monday afternoon, the province announced it will start releasing information on exposures at schools daily beginning Tuesday – something many parents were arguing should have been happening since the start of this school year.
Parent Brittany Snow got a notification over the weekend about a possible exposure to the virus related to her child's school.
After that, she and her children went to get a COVID-19 test, and plan to get tested again at the end of the week.
While she's relieved the province will soon be making information on school-related cases public, she still has concerns.
"I got the notification email (from the school) Sunday, the exposure was actually on the 21st, so there was a five-day difference."
Snow says that's a period when she could have limited her family's activities even more, had she known earlier.
According to one parent, at least one school affected by multiple exposures is now taking extra measures.
Heather MacDonald's 15-year-old son attends Halifax West. She says after she received four separate notifications about cases connected to the school, the institution also announced additional precautions.
MacDonald says those measures kicked in at Halifax West -- after she received four separate notifications about cases there.
"They've restricted public access, they've limited extracurricular (activities), so they've got it under control," says MacDonald.
A new study published Monday by the Canadian Paediatric Surveillance Program does offer evidence that could ease the anxiety of some parents with school-age children.
The study, which looked at cases of COVID-19 in children between April and December 2020, found they were at low risk of severe disease.
That point is reiterated by the IWK's chair of pediatrics, Dr. Andrew Lynk.
"Only two per cent of all of our (COVID) hospitalizations are for children under 18 years of age," says Dr. Lynk. He says nationally, about 20 per cent of COVID cases are children.
Dr. Lynk says children who are old enough to be vaccinated also have an extra layer of protection.
"So we really do recommend that all of our teens who are eligible get their vaccinations, not only to protect themselves, even though the chance of getting severe disease is rare," he says, "but also more importantly, to protect their family members."
When asked if concerned parents should keep their children home from school if a COVID-19 exposure comes to light, Dr. Lynk says children benefit more from the educational and social supports of in-person learning.
"I would say if public health advised that your child hasn't been exposed, and they're not concerned, keep your child in school."
In a statement to CTV News in lieu of an interview, the province's Department of Education says the daily release of COVID information for schools will begin Tuesday "given the rise of COVID-19 cases in Nova Scotia."
It adds, "…a case associated with a school does not mean there is spread within the school. The school community is notified of potential exposures if a positive case (student, teacher or staff) was at the school while infectious."