Education Healthcare Media release

Media release: Full and transparent review of school COVID-19 cases required

Date: May 31, 2021

For Release: Immediately

(Halifax, NS) With schools now reopening, it’s critical the province allow for a full and  transparent review of school COVID-19 cases says the NSTU. Given the hundreds of school aged  children that tested positive for COVID in late April and early May, and the sheer volume of  schools impacted, a vague number in a talking point is not sufficient to assure families that  schools were not a source of community transmission less than a month ago. 

Just two weeks ago, on May 14, the IWK reported that 850 children had tested positive for  COVID-19 during the third wave and many had been admitted to hospital. Case numbers were  rising so quickly in children that health officials had been unable to inform more than 100  families about positive test results. In spite of these numbers and without a formal review, the  province declared on Friday that the virus doesn’t easily spread in schools and that they would  reopen to in-person learning in June without extra safety precautions.  

“I’m aware of teachers, students and staff who caught COVID-19 at school and brought it home  to their families. There are also media reports describing the same,” says NSTU President Paul  Wozney. “These people endured trauma at the time and many still haven’t recovered physically  or emotionally from the experience.” 

While case numbers have been declining steadily in Nova Scotia, there is still community spread  in some areas. Teachers have not been fully vaccinated and the majority of students have not received, or are not eligible to receive, a first dose. Wozney says that before the political  decision was made to reopen schools, the province should have properly evaluated the factors  that caused so many students, teachers and families to fall ill just weeks ago. 

“A lot of people were exposed to COVID-19 inside schools in late April at a time when the  government was making daily announcements aimed at reassuring families that schools were  safe,” says Wozney. “The hundreds of people who got sick, and the thousands of families that  were forced into quarantine deserve transparency and accountability before they are forced to  revisit the experience again.”

The NSTU has concerns about the lack of consultation that occurred as government reversed its  decision on Friday regarding the reopening of schools. “Teachers are feeling disrespected once  again and are left with many unanswered questions. The consequence is that they are unsure if  more changes will be announced suddenly, and how best to prepare for their student’s  learning.”