Dear school community,
We know the best place for children to learn is in a safe and supportive environment surrounded by their teachers, school staff, and friends.
I’m excited to welcome you all back into our buildings for the start of another year. This school year, our educational routine will look more familiar, with a full return to music, band, field trips, and clubs. All school sports will resume. Gyms will be open to community groups in the evenings and on weekends. And students and staff will once again be able to use cafeterias and participate in food programs as per previous years. Parents and guardians who follow public health measures will be allowed to visit schools, including on the first day of school for our youngest learners.
To ensure schools are as safe as possible, there will be core public health measures in place in all schools. These include frequent hand washing and sanitizing; cleaning of high-touch surfaces; and, staying home if you are feeling sick. As an additional layer of safety, we are requiring all students, staff, and visitors to wear masks inside schools to start the year. We will transition away from mandatory masks once the province reaches Phase 5 of its re-opening plan. And, as Dr. Strang reminds us, vaccinations work, so we ask all eligible staff and students to get vaccinated.
You can find more information about Back to School and the related Public Health Measures for Schools online, at https://novascotia.ca/backtoschool. Please know, we will continue to take the advice from Public Health, which means we will need to be flexible and adapt our safety measures as they monitor the number of COVID cases in our communities. It is possible that we will need to adopt stricter public health measures on a temporary basis in response to changing epidemiology in individual schools, families of schools, and/or communities. And, while it is unexpected, if we are required to move to at-home learning, we will follow an approach very similar to last year.
I also want to reinforce our commitment to Nova Scotia’s Inclusive Education Policy. There will continue to be a focus on equity by supporting students who are historically marginalized and racialized (African Nova Scotian and Mi’kmaw students) or who come from other groups that have been traditionally under-represented and under-served. This includes but is not limited to those struggling with poverty, students with disabilities, and LGBTQ2S++ students.
The plan for the 2021-22 school year was created with the input of thousands of voices – direction and guidance from public health officials, advice from physicians at the IWK Health Centre, feedback from the Nova Scotia Teachers Union, the Public School Administrators Association of Nova Scotia, support staff unions and teachers, survey results from parents, guardians and teachers, and recommendations from other key partners.
I know there will be many questions. If there are questions about your individual school, please contact the principal. For staff, please contact your supervisor.
We look forward to welcoming you back to our schools, and we look forward to another great year of learning.
Dr. Chris Boulter
TCRCE Regional Executive Director