March 15, 2020
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Nova Scotia Parents for Public Education with a membership of almost 17,300 parents, grandparents and care givers of students in the Province, would like to express our support for the decision to close Nova Scotia Public Schools during this difficult and unprecedented time in the province in dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic. A two week closure now may need to be extended, and we accept that reality. We have been hearing from Nova Scotians for many days now, about the risks our students face in the coming weeks and months, but more importantly, the risks our children would share with family and others if they are exposed to the Covid-19 virus at school.
Over the weekend, we ran a poll of our members to get a good idea of the how the public felt about the current and increased risk at this critical time with thousands of Nova Scotians currently on or returning from March Break holidays in various parts of the world. We were the last province to be impacted by presumptive or confirmed cases of Covid-19, but there was no comfort in this, as we saw cases growing across Canada and start being acknowledged in the other Atlantic Provinces. Almost 1,800 of our members responded within 24 hours, and 87% of them wanted our schools to close for at least two weeks after March Break. Our poll and other social media posts also opened up very good conversations illuminating the various concerns members of the public have right now.
While Premier McNeil had a stern message for the various leaders of political parties and unions, etc in our province, we do believe the teachers and administrators in our schools have valid perspectives on this situation. They are front line workers who have a very strong level of experience in dealing with students, from our youngest pre-primary kids to our oldest teens approaching graduation, during the worst times of year for viruses, specifically during flu seasons. They are the front line in reminding kids to wash their hands, cough into their elbows, not share food or drinks, etc. As parents we know teachers are invaluable in helping keep our kids healthy. We do listen to their voices in times like this.
We also listen to each other in consideration for those who are at home. The concerns parents have about their other family members, as well as their own students and teachers, who may be vulnerable due to health issues and age, are great. The overwhelming message we received from parents is their concern for others. They want to do what is going to work best to prevent the uncontrollable spread of this virus and dire consequences we may face. Nova Scotia is not alone in the critical times we are facing. We are with the rest of Canada and the world in dealing with this pandemic. We cannot ignore the mistakes and impacts caused by delays in other regions in making these adverse but essential decisions.
There was a sense of relief for many Nova Scotians today, with the delivery of the measures now being implemented in the province. However, many Nova Scotians are concerned about the impacts the school closures will have on their families, with childcare and lost work time on their minds. We do fear the inevitable could be far worse if the schools were to open next Monday, but we do hope there are considerations for Nova Scotians who will need help during this time. We encourage our membership to help each other when possible. Check in on families who you know are struggling. Donate to the local food banks and other organizations that can provide assistance. Those facing struggles, please reach out to others. We also encourage Nova Scotian Employers and the Government of Nova Scotia, to take immediate steps to prevent financial hardships on our fellow Nova Scotians. This is a time when we must work together.
We also encourage our members to have patience, with others and with changes as they come. Please rely on official news and government sources for information. Follow instructions and adhere to advisories. We all must do our part to lessen the impacts for the next weeks and months. Be safe and stay well.