So many questions, so few answers for parents as school year approaches
HALIFAX -- With two-and-a-half weeks before students and staff head back into Maritime schools, there are still questions about how it is all going to be handled -- especially when it comes to what happens if a student or staff member comes down with COVID-19.
"You ask a question, and there's just five more questions behind it," says parent Lexie Burgess Misner when asked what happens if COVID-19 comes to her young child's classroom. "Are people going to be sent home every time their nose runs, or they sneeze, or they cough, because, then do they have to be tested? Does the whole class have to be tested?"
Laura Churchill Duke is trying her best to handle the constant questions she's getting as president of the parent-teacher association at her child's school.
"That lack of information leads to a heightened anxiety or a lack of control about what's going on," Churchill Duke said.
What Nova Scotia parents do know is that the plan so far is to send kids back to school on Sept. 8 -- and that cases of COVID-19 in the education system, are likely.
"We will get COVID cases in a school, but that doesn't mean that what we've got in place has not worked," said Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia's chief medical officer of health.
Government's back-to-school plan states one confirmed case in a school would be considered an outbreak, and public health would handle contact tracing, testing, and isolation requirements. The education department says schools would work with public health to notify families.
Nova Scotia's education minister has said operational details will vary by school.
On Friday, the head of the Halifax Regional Centre For Education sent a letter to staff, stating: "We will continue to take our direction from our chief medical officer of health, Dr. Robert Strang and the team at public health for medical-related questions and situations. This includes direction if there is a need to pivot to a new learning model ...or if there is a suspected case of COVID-19 in a school."
It's too little detail -- too late -- says the head of the Nova Scotia Teachers' Union.
"You know the list of questions remains long," Paul Wozney said."You know, all we really know is that public health has said 'we'll handle it,, but we don't know what that looks like."
In New Brunswick, the province's chief medical officer of health says testing will be the new normal for everyone.
"We want to set the expectation that this the normal aspect of going to school, that we have to get tested when we're not feeling well and we have symptoms," said Dr. Jennifer Russell.
While some parents are practicing patience, for others, that patience, is wearing thin.
"There's no reason why, there couldn't be more answers to the questions families have," said Burgess Misner.
New Brunswick's education minister will have a scheduled update on back to school plans on Tuesday.
Nova Scotia Education Minister Zach Churchill has said more details will be communicated when principals return to schools next week, at which point there will be 10 working days, before classes begin.