State of emergency declared. See Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) updates and check for location, program and service closures, cancellations and changes.

Returning to Class

In consultation with Public Health, the enhanced Public Health measures have been updated for all schools after the holiday break. This will continue to be reviewed and updated based on epidemiology and Public Health direction.

The table below describes the key measures that schools need to consider when implementing the direction from Public Health. These measures will help to slow the spread of COVID-19 in schools, while prioritizing in-school learning.

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.

The guiding principle throughout these enhanced measures is that schools will make every reasonable effort to reduce mixing of students outside their regular classes/groupings.

Expectations for Schools

The following expectations for Nova Scotia public schools, staff and students have changed based on Public Health guidance and are effective January 10, 2022.

Guidance will continue to be regularly reviewed with Public Health.

Item
Expectation for Schools
Core Public Health measures
  • Core public health measures continue to be required. See Public Health Guidance for the details, including requirements on mask wearing.
  • As a reminder, 3 layered non-medical masks or medical masks are required indoors when physical distancing is not possible. Particular attention should be paid to fit of the mask. Masks are not required when actively eating or drinking, participating in rigorous physical activity or when outdoors.
  • Much like the management of influenza (flu), 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 will make every reasonable effort to prevent mixing of different classes/groups.
  • Existing class schedules may need to be adjusted to minimize mixing. This may mean staggering bell times, adjusting drop off and release times, or other strategies previously employed.
  • Other strategies to prevent mixing of classes/groups will include controlled movement in schools, hallways, and common spaces (such as cafeterias and other shared areas in secondary schools) to reduce congregation. Instructional spaces should be reconfigured to provide increased spacing, where possible. Supervising movement between classes and monitoring for proper mask wearing will help mitigate risk.
Outdoor Mixing of Classes/Groups & Recess
  • Schools should make best use of the available outdoor space.
  • Class/group sizes can be combined outdoors, but efforts should be made to limit the size of these groups (maximum of 4 classes/groups of similar grade levels).
School Assemblies/Large Gatherings
  • Suspended
Lunch/Cafeteria
  • Students will eat lunch with their class/group.
  • This may look different in high schools. Students should eat with other students from their consistent groupings. An emphasis will also be placed on creating additional space to increase distancing.
  • Options can include adjusting the layout of the cafeteria (maximum of 50% capacity) by removing tables/chairs and using visual cues, such as floor markers, to indicate where to sit.
Lockers/Cubbies
  • Lockers/cubbies can continue to be used. They should be accessed in ways that prevents classes/groups from mixing.
  • Some schools may not be able to accommodate regular use of lockers/cubbies.
Specialist Teachers
  • Specialist teachers can continue to use their current learning spaces, so long as schools appropriately manage transition times/class changes to limit mixing of classes/groups.
Visitors
  • Non-essential visitors are not permitted in the school. Only essential visitors who produce proof of vaccine and who wear masks are permitted in the building. Schools should also ensure essential visitors are actively screened by using the daily checklist.
  • The proof of vaccine protocol continues to apply for staff, outside service providers and visitors/volunteers.
Extra-curricular Activities, Clubs, Sports, Intramurals, and Field Trips
  • Such events should occur within cohorts. Virtual options for clubs and activities should be considered if existing cohorts cannot be maintained.
  • If the club/activity is deemed essential to the well-being of the children, such as many of the programs offered by SchoolsPlus, and cannot be virtual, groups should be small, consistent, and maintain core public health measures. This includes physical distancing and masking.
  • School Sport Nova Scotia (SSNS) will follow community public health requirements for sports. For more information visit: https://novascotia.ca/coronavirus/restrictions-and-guidance/
Food and Nutrition
  • Breakfast, lunch and snack programs will continue in ways that limit mixing of classes/groups.
Consideration of Students with Specialized Healthcare Needs
Music Classes
  • For now, no singing or wind instruments will be allowed.
  • Other musical learning will follow the core public health measures and the guidance in this document.
Physical Education Classes
  • Wherever practical, schools should hold physical education classes outside. Masks are not required outside.
  • Masks are not required when participating in rigorous indoor physical activity.
  • 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.
Transportation
  • Masks are mandatory on school buses.
  • Particular attention will be paid to regular cleaning of high touch surfaces and opening windows. If possible, assign seats and load the bus back to front.

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. High touch surfaces will be cleaned before the next school day.
Fan use in schools
  • Fans can be used if they are positioned in front of an open window or door to facilitate movement of fresh air.
  • Fans should not be placed directly next to anyone and should not blow air directly from one person’s breathing zone to others in the room.
  • In all other instances fans should not be used because they only serve to recirculate air already in the classroom.
  • This guidance was developed with experts at Public Health, the IWK Health Centre, and Nova Scotia Environment.
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