Frequently Asked Questions

What kind of protective equipment will you provide staff?
Updated: October 7, 2020
All staff will be provided with cloth masks. Staff will also have access to medical masks, gloves and face shields when required.
Not everyone can wear a mask. What will happen to those children/students? Are they required to have a medical exemption?
Updated: October 7, 2020
There may be a small number of children and students with sensory or health issues who cannot tolerate wearing a mask. A medical exemption or proof is not required. We must be respectful of children and students in this situation. Parents are encouraged to consult their school to develop a plan for their child.
Are masks mandatory and who will need to wear one?
Updated: October 7, 2020
The return to school plan includes mandatory mask use as one measure to reduce the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19. All children and students, regardless of grade, who ride a school bus must wear a mask on the bus. At school, all students in grades 4 to 12, and all staff, must wear a mask indoors when they cannot physically distance by 2 metres.
Will students be provided masks, or must they supply their own?
Updated: October 21, 2020
All students will be provided with two cloth masks. Students should have access to a second mask during the day should their mask become moist or soiled. Disposable masks will be available to those students who forget their mask.
Will students be able to remove their masks in class?
Updated: October 7, 2020
Students in grade 4 and up must wear their masks in class when they are unable to physically distance by 2 metres. Classrooms will be arranged to maximize the distance between students when seated. If students can be seated 2 metres apart, facing the same direction, they may remove their mask while at their desk. Students can remove their masks while eating or drinking. Creating opportunities throughout the day for mask breaks is encouraged.
Will students be able to remove their masks to eat, drink, or when taking part in physical activity?
Updated: October 21, 2020
Yes. Students are not required to wear masks during these activities, including when these activities take place indoors.
Why is mask use not part of the plan for Pre-primary to grade 3? Why not mask all children and students.
Updated: October 7, 2020
The back to school plan was developed in consultation with Nova Scotia Public Health and medical experts at the IWK Health Centre. Public health updated their guidelines on mask use in schools to include grades 4 to 12. This is based on new guidelines released by the Public Health Agency of Canada who recommend masks for children ages 10 and up, because they may be more likely than younger students to transmit the virus. As we continue to learn more, guidance for mask use may change.
Why are all students required to wear a mask on a bus, but then only some in school?
Updated: October 7, 2020
Unlike at school, where younger grades will spend their day as a cohort and older students will be required to wear masks when they cannot physically distance, school buses will service students and children of all ages. The guidance from public health is that masks be worn by all school bus riders, regardless of grade level, until they get to school.
Masks are not required for Pre-primary to Grade 3. Can teachers or early childhood educators force a child in Pre-primary to Grade 3 to put one on?
Updated: October 7, 2020
No. Only students in Grades 4 to 12 and all staff are be required to wear masks in school when physical distancing of two metres isn’t possible. The exception is on school buses, where all children and students regardless of age or grade level are required to wear one.
How will combined grade classes work? Specifically, grade 3 – 4 combined classes? Do all students wear masks?
Updated: October 7, 2020
It will be important that all students, as a class, participate in public health measures. All students in a grade 3/4 split class will need to wear a mask.
What happens if a child begins to show symptoms at school?
Updated: October 21, 2020
If a student feels unwell or exhibits symptoms of COVID-19 while in school:
  • The student will wash their hands and be provided a mask to wear.
  • They will be escorted to an isolation room/area in the school.
  • The school will call the parent/guardian to come pick up the student.
  • The student will be monitored until a parent/guardian can arrive to pick them up.
  • You will be advise to complete the COVID-19 self-assessment online ( or call 811 if you cannot access the online assessment tool.
Families are encouraged to review the fact sheet: Preventing COVID-19 Spread in Schools:
What is going to happen to children who have a runny nose because of allergies, or a chronic cough, or other chronic ailment? Will they keep getting sent home? Do we keep them home?
Updated: October 7, 2020
If a child has a chronic cough, seasonal allergies, or other known medical condition, families are encouraged to bring that to the attention of the teacher or school. Children are not required to stay home if their chronic symptoms are not new, are normal for them, and they are otherwise well. Parents are encouraged to monitor their children for new or worsening symptoms.
If my child is tested for COVID-19 and the result is negative, do they isolate or go back to school?
Updated: October 7, 2020
If the test is negative, your child may return when they are feeling better with no fever medication for 24 hours. Mild lingering symptoms such as cough or runny nose does not prevent individuals from returning. Repeat the assessment for any new or worsening symptoms.
If my child is sent home from school for being sick, do they have to self-isolate?
Updated: October 7, 2020
If your child is sent home because they feel unwell, parents/guardians are encouraged to complete the online 811 assessment: or if they are unable, to call 811.  If public health advises that a COVID-19 test is not required, your child may return to school if they are feeling better, have no fever for 24 hours (without medications), and have no new or worsening symptoms.  If public health advises that a COVID-19 test is required, your child will isolate until the test results come back.
How are you going to physically distance a class of 20+ students?
Updated: August 28, 2020
Learning spaces will be re-arranged to allow for maximum space. If physical distancing is not possible, students in grades 4 to 12 will be required to wear a mask.
How will pre-primary and primary work when the curriculum for these students is play-based?
Updated: October 7, 2020
Children will still be able to take part in play-based learning. Within their class cohorts, students can move throughout the classroom and interact, but should be supported to avoid direct physical contact. Early childhood educators and teachers will be encouraged to take their lessons outside as often as possible, as the outdoors is one of the safeguards against the transmission of COVID-19.
Will immunocompromised students be provided an online alternative?
Updated: October 7, 2020
We know there is a very small number of children that will not be able to attend school this year for medical reasons. Schools have existing processes in place to support students in these and other situations.
Can students learn from home if they have an immunocompromised or elderly family member or friend?
Updated: October 7, 2020
Students with immunocompromised family members have been supported to learn in class prior to COVID-19. This support will continue. If you are concerned about a family member who is immunocompromised, please contact your healthcare provider for advice. Families are also encouraged to contact their school to learn more about the public health measure in place to support students return to in class learning.
If students have to stay home as a precaution every time they do not feel well, what will that mean for their attendance?
Updated: October 7, 2020
No student will be penalized for attendance if they miss school because they are unwell and need to stay home. Loss of credit provisions in the policy will be suspended.
Students and staff are in schools where they are unable to properly physically distance. Why are students and staff not provided with the same level of safety as the public?
Updated: October 7, 2020
The back to school plan provides an appropriate balance of allowing in-class learning while applying the necessary public health measures in a layered and complementary approach. Many of the public health measures in the plan are ones that we have become accustomed to in our day-to-day lives from physical distancing, to hand hygiene, enhanced cleaning of high-touch surfaces and mask use when physical distancing is not possible.
What is going to happen in before and after school programs? Are they cancelled?
Updated: October 7, 2020
Before and after school programs like EXCEL will continue and take place in accordance with public health guidelines. For more information visit:
Can elementary school students leave the school at lunch?
Updated: October 7, 2020
It is expected that students who remain at school for lunch will stay and eat in their classrooms or outside. If a student needs to leave, they will be required to follow measure in place at the school when entering and exiting. This includes handwashing/sanitizing before returning to the class.
How will the school morning look now? Will kids be able to play in the playground and gather before class?
Updated: October 7, 2020
Public health measures must be respected. Mornings will look different for each school based on their bus schedules, pick-up/drop-off, and plan in place to welcome students into the building every morning.
What will be happening during music class. Will they be encouraged to wear mask so they will be allowed to sing without increased risk of spreading droplets?
Updated: October 7, 2020
Music guidance to teachers has been developed and is now available online at
How will students use the washroom, especially those who are not required to wear masks? Is there a risk to spread COVID?
Updated: October 7, 2020
They will be able to use the washrooms as they always have. Bathrooms will be cleaned on a more frequent basis.
Where can I find information on homeschooling?
Updated: October 7, 2020
Thanks for your message. More information about homeschooling, including how to register is available at
If a student is required to isolate, does that mean everyone else in the household has to isolate too?
Updated: October 7, 2020
People who live with someone who is unwell or awaiting a COVID-19 test or result do not need to stay home unless they have symptoms. Close contacts of people with COVID-19 will receive additional guidance from public health about their need to isolate.
What are the experts saying about the Back to School plan?
Updated: October 7, 2020
Our Back to School Plan is the best plan for Nova Scotian students. It has been recognized nationally by experts in epidemiology, psychology and public health research, receiving one of the highest ratings in the country. We have, and continue to, follow the Public Health Guidelines and the expert advice from Pediatricians, psychologists and child development experts at the IWK to plan for a safe return to school in September.