August 4, 2020
Good Afternoon Students and Families:
On Wednesday, July 22, 2020, the province released Nova Scotia’s Back to School Plan, based on consultation and advice from Dr. Robert Strang, Chief Medical Officer of Health, Public Health and pediatricians at the IWK Health Centre, the NSTU and other educational partners. If you have not yet had a chance to review the Plan, you can find it and other associated material including a list of frequently asked questions at www.novascotia.ca/backtoschool.
Hearing from the health professionals, we know that the best place for children’s emotional, social, physical and psychological development is in the classroom with their teachers and peers. Here is a short video clip that you may wish to watch that talks about a few reasons why being back in school is so important for children’s development: Dr. Andrew Lynk, Chief of Pediatrics at the IWK Health Centre.
As of today, Grades Primary to 12 students will return to school on Tuesday, September 8, 2020. However, Nova Scotia’s Back to School Plan will be responsive to any change in COVID-19 cases in Nova Scotia. If there is a case of COVID-19 in a community or in a school, we will follow the process outlined in the Public Health Guidelines and take our direction from Dr. Strang and the team at Public Health. They will investigate and provide additional guidance on the required actions, including but not limited to case management, contact follow-up, closing a school or family of schools and for determining notifications. Our learning options allow us to move to a blended learning model or at-home learning if directed by Public Health.
Health and Safety
Our priority is to ensure the safe return of students and staff to in-class learning in September. The Plan puts the safety of children, students, families and staff first and foremost, and outlines public health guidelines and enhanced safety measures including but not limited to:
- staggered recesses and lunches;
- cohorting (grouping) classes in elementary schools;
- creating more space between students within their classrooms;
- separate exits and entrances;
- increased signage, decals on floors and reminders about physical distancing and good health practices like frequent handwashing and cough and sneeze etiquette;
- frequent and enhanced cleaning of high-touch surfaces and common areas;
- requiring masks in common areas for high school students and on buses for all riders and staff; and
- providing personal protective equipment (PPE) and hand sanitizer for our schools.
Our plan is responsive, and our practices can be modified in the event that the emerging evidence and epidemiology of COVID-19 changes.
An additional $15 million has been allocated provincially to support student mental health needs and learning as students transition back to school, and we implement COVID-19 safety protocols. To support implementation of the Back to School Plan, the province just announced an additional $40 million in funding to purchase more classroom/instructional supplies, more resources to clean pre-primary rooms, and funds to hire hundreds of new custodians, lunch monitors and substitute teachers across Nova Scotia. In the SRCE, the hiring process is underway for additional casual positions including early childhood educators, teacher assistants, substitute teachers, custodians, bus drivers and lunch and bus ground supervisors. The SRCE Human Resources Department may be contacted by email at email@example.com or by phone at 902-625-2191.
We know the upcoming school opening will look a bit different than what we have experienced in the past. Although school routines will be different, students will continue to receive the same quality education, services and supports as before COVID-19. We will meet students where they are in their learning and support them in the transition to their new grade level. Rest assured, our SRCE team is working hard to ensure all families and staff experience a successful start to the 2020-2021 school year.
Additional information will be shared as the SRCE continues to implement the plan in preparation for school opening in September 2020. The SRCE will continue to share updates via region-wide email alerts, posting to the SRCE website at https://srce.ca/ and on twitter, @SRCE_NS.
Thank you for your ongoing understanding and cooperation as we continue to support one another, work together to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and help each other stay as healthy and safe as possible.
Regional Executive Director of Education