Coronavirus (COVID-19) | Latest guidance

Returning to Class

The table below describes the key measures that schools need to consider as public health restrictions are lifted. Public Health will continue to review and update any measures based on epidemiology.

As a reminder - core public health measures continue to be a part of daily operations in schools, including staying home when sick, masking, hand hygiene, and cleaning and disinfecting. Vaccination is the most effective way to reduce the risk of COVID-19. Please see Public Health Guidance for more details on these measures.

Expectations for Schools

The following expectations for Nova Scotia public schools, staff and students have changed based on Public Health guidance and are effective March 21, 2022. Guidance will continue to be regularly reviewed with Public Health.

Item
Expectation for Schools
Staff, Outside Service Providers and Volunteers
  • Staff, outside service providers and volunteers should check the daily checklist and not enter the school if they are feeling unwell. Masks will be mandatory in schools for a few more weeks after students and staff return to school from March Break on March 21.
  • Proof of vaccination will no longer be required by anyone to enter schools.
COVID-19 testing

Public Health is recommending the use of rapid tests to help protect people at increased risk of severe disease, such as those who are older or immunocompromised. These people and those who live with them or are around them are encouraged to do occasional or regular rapid testing, even if they don’t have symptoms. Schools are at the heart of our communities, so rapid test kits will continue to be provided to students and staff on an ongoing basis, depending on supply from the federal government.

Public Health does not recommend testing for people who have recovered from COVID-19 within the past 90 days. Anyone who recovered in the past 90 days is asked to:

  • not take rapid tests and leave supply for those who have not yet contracted COVID-19
  • or take the rapid tests and give them to family or friends who need access to rapid tests
Core Public Health measures
  • Maintaining everyday healthy habits will help protect yourself and others around you, including those at increased risk of severe disease.
  • Core public health measures continue to be in place. See Public Health Guidance for the details.
  • Masks will be mandatory in schools for a few more weeks after students and staff return to school from March Break on March 21. A supply of masks will continue to be available to students and staff.
  • Public Health will monitor school absences and community epidemiology.
  • Vaccination is our best protection. Everyone who is eligible is encouraged to book an appointment for their initial immunizations or a booster dose.
Mixing of Classes/Groups & Scheduling
  • Schools are allowed to have different classes/group mix, however, they may want to keep some strategies developed throughout the pandemic to allow for better movement within a school to reduce congregation.
  • Schools should make best use of the available outdoor space.
School Assemblies/Large Gatherings
  • Schools should consider ways to minimize congestion, making best use of available space while balancing what is in the best interest for students.
Lunch/Cafeteria
  • Cafeterias will be open to all students. Schools may consider ways to create additional space to allow for better flow and minimizing congestion.
Lockers/Cubbies
  • Lockers/cubbies can continue to be used.
Specialist Teachers
  • Specialist teachers can continue to use their current learning spaces.
Visitors
  • There is no longer a public health requirement to limit visitors entering schools. Visitors will follow regular school policies on entering schools.
  • Visitors will not be required to show proof of vaccination, however, they will be required to wear a mask if entering the school within the first few weeks.
  • Schools should ensure all visitors are screened by using the daily checklist.
Extra-curricular Activities, Clubs, Sports, Intramurals, and Field Trips
  • Schools will continue to follow the community guidelines on sports, arts and culture.
  • For activities where it is possible, cohorts or virtual options may be considered.
  • Tournaments continue to be permitted.
  • Spectators are permitted and do not need to show proof of vaccination. Spectators are required to wear a mask if attending during school hours, however, if it is after school hours, spectators are encouraged to wear a mask, but not required.
Food and Nutrition
  • Breakfast, lunch and snack programs can operate as normal.
Consideration of Students with Specialized Healthcare Needs
Music Classes
  • Music classes can resume as normal.
  • Masks are required when singing in groups for a few more weeks.
  • Students and staff should consider how to best use their available space to spread out when singing or playing a wind instrument.
Physical Education Classes

Schools should make the best use of available space to spread out and wherever practical, continue to hold physical education classes outside.

For the first few weeks following March Break:

  • Masks are required when not engaged in indoor physical activity if physical distancing cannot be maintained. This means that masks cannot be removed as soon as students enter the gymnasium. They must be worn while not actively engaged in rigorous physical activity.
  • All school staff must always wear their mask during indoor physical education class.
  • Masks are not required when participating in rigorous indoor physical activity.
  • Masks are not required outside.
Transportation
  • For the first few weeks following March Break, masks are mandatory on the school bus. After that, masks are not required, but continue to be recommended and students may choose to continue to wear masks on school buses.
  • Regular cleaning of high touch surfaces will continue.

As a reminder the following measures have not changed and continue to apply:

Item
Expectation for Schools
Learning outdoors
  • Learning outdoors has been proven to support student and staff well-being. This practice will continue to be a priority.
  • Teachers can organize regular excursions within their community, such as a trip to a nearby park or green space area, to add variety in the outdoor learning settings. A general walking permission form signed once by parents can cover all excursions of this nature off school property.
  • The Pre-primary Program will continue to spend a minimum of 40% of their day engaged in outdoor play.
Foundational outcomes
  • Foundational outcomes as developed for selected courses in grades 9-12 and Mathematics P-12 will remain in place.
  • This practice provides more time for classes to get outside and allows educators to better incorporate well-being into teaching and learning.
Attendance Policy
  • There will be a continued suspension of the loss of credit provisions of the policy. All other aspects of the policy remain in effect. No incentives or penalties that may inadvertently induce students to come to school when they feel unwell may be put in place.
Community use of schools
  • Schools will return to their existing policies on community use of schools.
Fan use in schools
  • Fans can be used.
  • Best practice is to:
    • position fans in front of an open window or door to facilitate movement of fresh air; and,
    • not place fans directly next to anyone and to ensure they do not blow air directly from one person’s breathing zone to others in the room.
Provincial assessments and examinations
  • Provincial assessments and exams will be administered this year. The assessment schedule can be found at: https://plans.ednet.ns.ca/.
Sharing equipment/materials in the classroom
  • When equipment is shared, ensure proper hand hygiene is performed.
  • Avoid sharing personal items such as water bottles, lip gloss and food.
Pre-primary Program
  • The Pre-primary Program can fully resume following core public health measures.

Being prepared for at-home learning

Teacher resources are available on the Nova Scotia Curriculum site: https://curriculum.novascotia.ca

Early Childhood Educators will also use similar procedures from the 2020-2021 school year where they discussed with families early in the year the availability of technology at home and how they wish to be contacted. More details on the at-home learning scenario will be provided to Early Childhood Educators by their Pre-primary Managers.

Families who would like more information, can visit: Update on Plans for Learning from Home 2021-2022