'There hasn't been much communication': N.S. parents feel like they're in the dark as school year is set to begin
COLE HARBOUR, N.S. -- A school year like no other is set to begin next week, and as the days count down, the number of questions being asked by Nova Scotia parents and students goes up.
Megan Jennex of Cole Harbour, N.S., doesn't know what to expect when her eight-year-old daughter walks through the doors of Astral Drive Elementary next Tuesday.
"Is there going to be a delayed, staggered starts to the day? How's pick-up going to look?" asked Jennex.
"There hasn't been much communication in terms of that."
Jennex is one of many parents who say they have more questions than answers when it comes to the upcoming year.
June Bond of Dartmouth, N.S., also has questions.
"If they get so much as the common cold, what is going to happen there?" Bond said. "If they get a cough, or a sneeze? Are they going to have to be tested for COVID-19 before they go back to school? That is my biggest concern."
Emily Hunter has the same concerns. She doesn't want her three-year-old being forced to take multiple COVID-19 tests -- that's why she'll homeschool him this year instead of sending him to pre-primary.
"We don't know what the protocol is," said Hunter, who lives in Gaetz Brook, N.S. "There's not really a great back-to-school plan happening, so if we had more of that, then maybe?"
But the Department of Education says student safety is its priority and it has a multi-layer approach. Still, the Nova Scotia Teachers' Union wonders how contact tracing will be handled once someone is diagnosed with the virus.
"We have no guarantees that Nova Scotia is ever going to find out about COVID-19 in schools and I think that's terrifying for a lot of people," said Paul Wozney, president of the Nova Scotia Teachers Union.
Gabrielle Caya is a Grade 12 student at Halifax West High School.
"A fear of mine is, if I do get the virus and how fast it can spread to someone else and going from school to home, it is really concerning as I don't want to give it to family members or the ones that I love," Caya said.
Wozney says there needs to be better communication to parents.
He also worries about the water quality and proper working ventilation in schools across the province.
The Department of Education says the back-to-school-plan has several public health measures to keep students safe, including staggered recess and lunch breaks, bubbling classrooms, providing sanitizers, masks and doing maintenance.
But parents say the information they have is not enough.
"In the plan, they said if a kid comes down with symptoms during the day, they will be isolated, but in my daughter's school I can't even picture where they would go," Jennex said. "Like a broom closet?"
Both parents and students alike have a long list of unanswered questions mere days before school begins. The Department of Education says the Halifax Regional Centre For Education, along with the other regions and the Conseil Scolaire Acadien Provincial are planning to hold a media opportunity, to provide people with a glimpse of the public health measures at schools throughout the province before the students begin next week.