Frequently Asked Questions

What kind of protective equipment will you provide staff?
Updated: August 28, 2020
All staff will be provided with cloth masks. Staff will also have access to 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: August 28, 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: August 28, 2020
The return to school plan includes mandatory mask use as one measure to reduce the spread of COVID-19. All children and students, regardless of grade, who ride a school bus must wear a mask. At school, all students in grades 4 to 12, and all staff, must wear a mask when they cannot physically distance by 2 metres.
Will students be provided masks, or must they supply their own?
Updated: August 28, 2020
All students will be provided with 2 cloth masks. Disposable masks will be available to those students who forget their mask.
Will students be able to remove their masks in class?
Updated: August 28, 2020
Students must wear their masks in school when they are unable to physically distance by 2 metres. Classroom 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.
Will students be able to remove their masks to eat, drink, or when taking part in physical activity?
Updated: August 28, 2020
If students are taking part in indoor physical activity when a mask cannot be worn, when they are eating and drinking, the mask can be removed. Masks are not required during outdoor activities.
Why is mask use not part of the plan for Pre-primary to grade 3? Why not mask all children and students.
Updated: August 28, 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 as likely as adults to transmit the virus.
Why are all students required to wear a mask on a bus, but then only some in school?
Updated: August 28, 2020
Unlike at school, where younger grades will spend their day as a cohort/bubble 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: August 28, 2020
No. Only students in Grades 4 to 12 all staff will 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: August 28, 2020
It will be important that all students participate in public health measures, as a class, and this includes mask use.
What happens if a child begins to show symptoms at school?
Updated: September 4, 2020
If a student feels unwell or exhibits symptoms of COVID-19 they will be provided a medical mask to wear (if they don’t have one) and will be escorted to an isolation room/area in the school until a parent/guardian can pick them up.

The family will be advised to call 811. Unless otherwise advised by 811, the student may return to school if they are feeling better, have no fever for 24 hours (without medications), and have no new or worsening symptoms.
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: August 28, 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. 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: September 4, 2020
A negative COVID-19 test has two outcomes: 

If the student is considered a close contact, they will isolate for 14 days. 

If the student is not considered a close contact, they can return to school if they are feeling better, have no fever for 24 hours (without medications), and have no new or worsening symptoms.
If my child is sent home from school for being sick, do they have to self-isolate?
Updated: September 4, 2020
If your child is sent home because they feel unwell, parents/guardians are encouraged to complete the online 811 assessment: https://when-to-call-about-covid19.novascotia.ca/en 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.
Can I refuse a COVID test for my child?
Updated: August 28, 2020
If your child is exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19, you will be encouraged to contact 811 to determine if a test is required. This is a key step in making sure we limit the risk of transmission of COVID-19 in our school systems. The decision to have a child tested is at the discretion of the family.
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: August 28, 2020
Children will still be able to take part in play-based learning, but they will be required to physical distance as much as possible. 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: August 28, 2020
We know there is a very small number of children that won’t 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: August 28, 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: September 1, 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 being packed 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: August 28, 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: August 28, 2020
Before and after school programs like EXCEL will continue and take place in accordance with public health guidelines.
Can elementary school students leave the school at lunch?
Updated: August 28, 2020
It is expected that students who remain at school for lunch will stay and eat in their classrooms. If a student needs to leave, they will be required to follow measure in place at the school when entering and exiting. This may include 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: August 28, 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: August 28, 2020
Music guidance to teachers has been developed and is now available online at https://curriculum.novascotia.ca/teacher-information.
How will students use the washroom, especially those who are not required to wear masks? Is there a risk to spread COVID?
Updated: August 28, 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: August 28, 2020
Thanks for your message. More information about homeschooling, including how to register is available at https://www.ednet.ns.ca/homeschooling/
If a student is required to isolate, does that mean everyone else in the household has to isolate too?
Updated: September 4, 2020
If a student is considered a close contact, they will be required to isolate. If their test is positive for COVID-19, Public Health will follow-up and household members will need to isolate if they are determined to be close contacts.

If the student’s test is negative, household members do not need to isolate, but the student will need to continue to isolate for the full 14 days. If the student develops symptoms during their isolation period, the family should complete the online assessment https://when-to-call-about-covid19.novascotia.ca/en or if unable to access the online tool, call 811.
What are the experts saying about the Back to School plan?
Updated: September 2, 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.