Nova Scotia’s back to school plan will be updated to mandate non-medical mask use for students in grades 4 to 12 while in school.
“The decision to require masks for grades 4 and up in our schools is in line with recent evidence and guidance from the Public Health Agency of Canada,” said Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s chief public health officer. “Along with all the other public health measures, masks will help protect our school communities from COVID-19.”
All students in grades 4 to 12 will be required to wear a mask inside schools except if they are seated at their desks while two metres apart and facing in the same direction. They must also be worn in hallways and other common areas if a two-metre distance cannot be maintained.
“Our goal, first and foremost, is student and staff safety. We developed our plan to be flexible, to best support the return to school for children, students and staff,” said Zach Churchill, Minister of Education and Early Childhood Development. “This change is in line with new federal recommendations around mask wearing and what we know about their effectiveness to prevent the spread of COVID-19, especially when wearing masks.”
Additional measures and information for families ahead of September include:
- school-by-school ventilation maintenance will take place to ensure equipment is operating properly and in good condition and that windows can be opened
- masks and hand sanitizers are starting to arrive at schools. All students and staff will receive two free cloth masks. Disposable masks will also be available if a student forgets or loses their mask during the school day
- Regional Centres for Education and the Conseil scolaire acadien provincial, will continue to communicate with families. Principals will also reach out to families with specific information about their school closer to September
- before and after school programs will be offered in accordance with public health guidelines
- schools, with the support of public health, will notify families as soon as they become aware of a COVID-19 case in their school, along with what measures will need to be taken.
- a return to school sport schedule and protocols that follow public health guidelines are in the final stage of development with Sports Nova Scotia and will be sent to schools by the Nova Scotia School Athletic Federation