September 6, 2022
An Open Letter to Nova Scotia Parents and Students:
As we prepare to return to school this fall, we know that questions about how best to protect students, teachers, and families/caregivers are being asked. Schools, like hospitals, provide an essential service. Students and educational staff need to be healthy and able to attend so that all can benefit.
During the past 2 ½ years, we have learned a lot about what works to decrease respiratory illnesses including COVID-19, influenza and the common cold. We need to use what we have learned and work together as we begin another school year to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and other respiratory illnesses.
Masking, vaccination and hand washing have been cornerstones of the pandemic response and have proven effective in reducing transmission of infections. While it is reasonable to relax some of the recommendations that were crucial during earlier waves of COVID-19, masks, vaccines and good hand washing remain our best tools to fight the spread of infection.
Masks: Masks do reduce transmission of COVID and other respiratory viruses. We recommend wearing masks in the school setting when students or teachers:
- are mildly unwell (i.e. runny nose), but still able to attend school.
- are in close contact with someone who has respiratory symptoms who can’t wear a mask.
- are worried about potentially bringing home respiratory viruses to family members or loved ones who are at higher risk of becoming severely ill.
- feel more comfortable wearing a mask for any reason.
What else can help?
- Make sure you and your family receive all recommended COVID-19, influenza and other vaccinations.
- Stay home from school/work if you are sick and/or experiencing cold or flu-like symptoms, including fever, vomiting or diarrhea, or new cough.
- Use good hand washing practices, including after returning home from being out in public, before eating, and after toileting.
Finally, it is important to ensure that students are not bullied about whether they do or do not wear a mask. Discuss this with your children. Be kind to one another, and tough on viruses.
Nova Scotia Pediatric Pandemic Advisory Group:
Dr. Alexa Bagnell (IWK Chief of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry)
Dr. Tara Chobotuk (IWK Pediatric Emergency Medicine and Chief of Community Pediatrics- Central Zone)
Dr. Jeannette Comeau (IWK Pediatric Infectious Diseases Specialist and Medical Director, Infection Prevention & Control)
Dr. Joanna Holland (IWK General Pediatrics & Hospital Medicine)
Dr. Katharine Kellock (Community Pediatrician- Sydney)
Dr. Mike Nash (Chief of Pediatrics- Valley Regional Hospital, Kentville)
Dr. Sarah Shea (IWK Developmental Pediatrics)
Dr. Andrew Lynk (IWK Chief of Pediatrics)