Frequently Asked Questions

Are masks mandatory and who will need to wear one?
Updated: April 23, 2021
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 and staff must wear a mask indoors when they cannot physically distance by 2 metres.
My child received a negative COVID-19 test result. When can they return to school?
Updated: November 16, 2020
If your child’s test is negative and they are not required to isolate for any other reason (ie: they are close contact of a case), they may return to school when they are feeling better without taking fever medication for 24 hours. If they have mild or lingering symptoms such as a cough or runny nose, they can still return to school. You should monitor their health for any new or worsening symptoms.

If your child is tested because they are considered a close contact and the test is negative, then they will have to continue to isolate for 14 days.

or more information on Preventing COVID-19 Spread in Schools visit:
If my child is a close contact of a COVID-19 positive case in a school, must the entire family self-isolate?
Updated: November 16, 2020
No. Only your child is required to self-isolate for 14 days. Other members in the home should try to limit close contact (if possible) and monitor for symptoms.
Will my child’s class or school be closed?
Updated: November 16, 2020
A decision to close a classroom or school will be based on the current situation. A closure decision would come from NSHA Public Health to the school.
How will the privacy of staff and students be protected if there is a positive COVID-19 case in a school?
Updated: November 16, 2020
NSHA Public Health takes protecting the privacy and personal health information of Nova Scotians very seriously. To quickly identify close contacts, NSHA Public Health may share the name of the student or staff member with the school principal. This will help in the investigation. Close contacts will not be told the name of the person who was the case.
What should I do when I hear there is a case at my child’s school?
Updated: November 16, 2020
We understand that families may feel anxious when they learn about a COVID-19 exposure in their school. The school will stay open, unless otherwise directed by NSHA Public Health. Students should continue to attend, and families should continue to monitor the health of their child every day. If your child begins to feel unwell, you can help them to take the online self-assessment:

If your child is identified by NSHA Public Health as a close contact, you will be contacted directly and provided information on what to do next.
Is there a specific number of cases that, once reached, would force the school to close?
Updated: November 16, 2020
No. Each situation is different. Decisions to keep a school open, close a classroom, or close the entire school are based on level of risk to other students and staff, and/or operational capacity to support in-school learning.

 NSHA Public Health in consultation with the Regional Centre for Education/CSAP and the school, may recommend a school/classroom close due to public health concerns.

The school in consultation with the Regional Centre for Education/CSAP may also choose to close a school/classroom due to operational capacity (staffing) due to COVID-19 impacts in their school. For example: If substitutes cannot be secured to cover for teachers that are out sick.
Will my child be sent home if there is a positive COVID-19 case in their school?
Updated: November 16, 2020
If a student or staff member tests positive for COVID-19, NSHA Public Health will work with the school to determine if any other students or staff are close contacts. A close contact is someone who has come into close contact (within 2 metres / 6 feet) for a long time (15 minutes or more), with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.

NSHA Public Health will contact all close contacts, first by letter and then by phone, to arrange testing and to give them information on what to do next. Close contacts must self-isolate for 14 days.
What happens when a staff member or student tests positive for COVID-19 in a school?
Updated: November 16, 2020
If someone in a school tests positive for COVID-19, they will be contacted by Public Health in the Nova Scotia Health Authority (NSHA). They will be told to self-isolate until NSHA Public Health tells them they are no longer infectious.

At the same time, NSHA Public Health will work with the school to let families know about the case and information on what to do next. Part of the work that NSHA Public Health will do, is to identify any close contacts of the student or staff member and notify them.
Where can I find information on homeschooling?
Updated: November 16, 2020
More information about homeschooling, including how to register is available at
Why is mask use not part of the plan for Pre-primary to grade 3? Why not mask all children and students.
Updated: November 16, 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.
Will students be provided masks, or must they supply their own?
Updated: November 16, 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.
Does reopening school gyms for community use pose a risk?
Updated: November 5, 2020
Access to school gyms for community physical activity has resumed because we have a plan to do it safely.

Regional centres for education and Conseil scolaire acadien provincial will hire more staff to ensure that students are coming to a school that has been cleaned following public health COVID-19 protocols.

Cleaners will continue to follow the cleaning practices they’ve been using, including ensuring high touch surfaces are cleaned often. Any spaces used by community members will be appropriately cleaned before students access it the following day.

RCEs/CSAP will also have funds to restrict access to the gym and washrooms by putting up barriers or hiring supervision or other staff to be onsite.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.