Dear TCRCE Families:
As you are aware, the province recently released the Nova Scotia Back to School plan, based on consultation and advice from Dr. Robert Strang, Public Health and pediatricians at the IWK Health Centre, the NSTU and other educational partners.
As of today, all children will return to school on September 8 given the current very low presence of COVID-19 in Nova Scotia. However, it should be noted that Nova Scotia’s Back to School Plan will be responsive to any change in COVID-19 cases in Nova Scotia. If there is a case of COVID in a community or in a school, we will follow the process outlined in the Public Health Guidelines and take our direction from Dr. Strang and his team at Public Health. They will investigate and advise on the next appropriate steps, including but not limited to, closing a school or family of schools and immediate notification of families. Our learning options allow us to move to a blended learning model or at-home learning if directed by public health. We will provide a technology device to any student who does not have access to one while learning at home.
As detailed in the plan, we are taking a layered approach with public health measures to keep students safe. For example, staggered recesses and lunches as required, cohorting classes in elementary schools, appropriate management of entrances and exits, maximizing classroom space and increased signage. We have already had meetings with TCRCE school-based and regional leadership staff about how we will accomplish this in the weeks to come, and this work is continuing from here on in.
Also, reminders will be present about good health practices like clean hands, the use of masks in common areas for high school students and on buses for all students, and increased hand sanitizing stations in our schools. Our plan is a responsive one and any of our practices can be modified in the event that the epidemiology of COVID-19 changes.
If you have not had a chance to review the plan, you can find it and other associated material including a list of frequently asked questions at www.novascotia.ca/backtoschool.
In the Back to School announcement, an additional $15 million has been allocated for additional support to help students with mental health and learning as they transition back to school and COVID-19 safety protocols. To support Back to School implementation, the province recently announced an additional $40 million in funding to purchase additional school supplies for students, more resources to clean pre-primary rooms, and funds to hire hundreds of new custodians, lunch monitors and substitute teachers.
Changes at our Schools
As mentioned, we are now in the process of starting to implement regional and school-based plans that follow the Nova Scotia Back to School Plan and public health guidance for our schools. Throughout August, schools and our Operational Services team will be making the necessary changes within schools to welcome students back in a safe manner.
We know you may have many questions; my commitment is to keep you informed. I will continue to keep you updated as new information is available.
I want to thank each one of you for your patience and understanding that these are uncharted times as we deal with this once-in-a-century pandemic. We are in this together, and together I believe we can continue to deliver a positive experience for our students.
Dr. Chris Boulter, Regional Executive Director, TCRCE