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Returning to Class for 2021-22

Nova Scotia is one of the few jurisdictions to be able to keep its students learning in school for most of the 2020-2021 year.

This meant our students benefited from the academic, social and emotional supports available through in-person learning. It also allowed educators, support staff and administrators to better understand where to focus and begin targeted supports based on Nova Scotia’s Inclusive Education Policy.

In 2021-2022, as we return to an environment that is more like previous years, there will be a continued focus on the principles of the Inclusive Education Policy, as well as on equity, well-being and achievement.

Teaching and Learning in 2021-2022

Students will return to school, and access the many supports and programs available, with relaxed COVID-19 protocols based on public health guidance as noted in that section of the site.

Throughout the pandemic, our education system has learned a great deal that will continue to benefit students beyond the pandemic. This includes:

  • Learning outdoors helps students be refreshed and supports engagement in learning.
  • Having access to technology supports learning and levels the playing field for learners.
  • Providing social opportunities and extracurriculars is a significant aspect of the full school experience.
  • Using multiple ways for parents/guardians to access support and information about their student is helpful (ex: phone, video conferencing).
  • Small group instruction is effective and can be used with public health restrictions and during at-home learning.
  • Following the Inclusive Education Policy matters even more. Schools have made use of new supports and adapted based on the feedback of their communities. For example, 46,000 new devices were purchased to support all families who had no or limited access to technology at home.
  • Well-being is a critical part of school and needs to be integrated into student learning from the beginning of the year. A more focused curriculum provides space and time for integrating the whole student approach.
  • We remain committed to ensuring the well-being of all students. Our School Counsellors, SchoolsPlus staff, and others will continue to provide timely and appropriate mental health supports to students.
  • Parent resources remain available to support families with back to school.
  • Teacher resources are available to support with back to school.

Expectations for the 2021-22 school year

The expectations below flow from the core public health guidance for back to school. Please review this guidance.

Item
Expectation for Schools
Core public health measures
  • Public Health indicates that schools will follow a set of core public health measures. These mainly include staying home if unwell, regular cleaning of high touch surfaces, frequent hand hygiene (hand washing or hand sanitizer), and attention to ventilation as described by public health.
  • To begin the year, masks are required for all students, staff, and visitors as per the Public Health guidance. We will transition to masks being optional once the province enters Phase 5 of its re-opening plan. Schools will begin to work with students and staff on preparing for this transition by developing supportive, safe spaces for those who choose to continue to wear a mask.
  • Schools will continue to provide masks to those who need one.
  • In certain circumstances, enhanced core measures may be added by Public Health.
  • While these expectations are meant to operationalize the public health guidance, please note that the Public Health guidance takes precedence.
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.
Before and After School Programs
Cafeterias
  • Cafeterias can be used following core public health measures. Existing food safety regulations continue to apply.
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.
Consideration of students with specialized healthcare needs
Extra-curricular
  • Extra-curricular activities can fully resume following core public health measures.
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.
Field trips
  • Field trips can resume as long as public health restrictions in the community are followed.
  • Any out-of-province trips need to be approved by the Regional Centre of Education/Conseil scolaire acadien provincial.
  • At this time, schools will not be able to schedule international field trips.
Food and nutrition
  • Breakfast, lunch and snack programs will operate following core public health measures.
  • Existing food safety regulations continue to apply.
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.
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.
Lockers/cubbies
  • Schools can use lockers and cubbies following core public health measures.
  • Particular attention should be paid to hand hygiene and high touch surfaces.
Lunch/Recess
  • Lunch/recess can return to normal following core public health measures.
Music classes
  • Music classes can fully resume following core public health measures.
  • Particular attention will be paid to using available space and outdoors, safe cleaning of instruments and saliva disposal, no sharing of mouthpieces, and masking while singing indoors.
Nova Scotia International Student Program (NSISP)
  • In September 2021, new students through NSISP will not be admitted from outside of Canada to attend public schools.
  • This will be revisited in the fall, in advance of the second semester.
Physical Education classes
  • Wherever practical, schools should hold physical education classes outside.
  • Classes indoors and outdoors will follow core public health measures.
  • Masks are not required when participating in indoor or outdoor physical activity, however they are required when not engaged in indoor physical activity if physical distancing cannot be maintained.
Pre-primary Program
  • The Pre-primary Program can fully resume following core public health measures.
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/.
School assemblies and large gatherings
  • School assemblies and other gatherings can resume following core public health measures.
  • Schools will maintain attendance records. Wherever possible, it is best to seat classes together and to hold larger gatherings outside or in the largest rooms, like gymnasiums or cafeterias.
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.
Sports
  • All School Sport Nova Scotia (SSNS) sports will resume following core public health measures and any additional SSNS requirements.
Transportation
  • Masks are mandatory on school buses.
  • Schools buses will operate following core public health measures.
  • Particular attention will be paid to regular cleaning of high touch surfaces and opening windows.
Visitors
  • Schools are allowed to have visitors who follow public health measures. Visitors must also follow the public health screening information.
  • Where practical, continue to use virtual meetings/visits. Feedback has supported offering choice to parents about how to meet with school staff.

Being prepared for at-home learning

While it is unexpected, there may be a need to transition to at-home learning for a class, school, family of schools, region or the province.

It is important for educators to incorporate technology regularly to prepare for this scenario. Schools made significant progress in the way at-home learning is delivered. As such, if required, the at-home learning scenario will look very similar.

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