Dozens of Nova Scotia schools from Meteghan, to Annapolis Royal, have had COVID-19 exposures since in-person learning resumed just over two weeks ago.
The online list of schools with exposures has just been made available to the public following a recent decision by the provincial government.
“In doing both, providing transparency as well as resources, I think that the government will build trust in parents so that they can feel informed in making decisions,” said Brittany Snow, a parent of two children under 12.
Snow is one of the thousands of parents who have been calling on the province to bring back public reporting of exposures in schools.
The groundswell of parents wanting that information led to a citizen group, Nova Scotia Parents for Public Education, compiling reports of exposures in schools with information that was being conveyed to parents through teachers.
It’s all part of why Paul Wozney, president of the Nova Scotia Teachers Union, says he feels exposure notifications in schools should come openly and directly from the government.
“It’s going to restore a sense of transparency and accountability for information about public schools, and it’s going to ratchet down the anxiety and lack of trust that had been growing in recent days,” Wozney said.
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According to the provincial government, extensive contact tracing is completed by Pubilc Health whenever there is a COVID-19 exposure in a school. A general notice is sent to the school with exposure through government channels and separate notices are sent to close contacts.
Further steps, like isolation requirements, depend on someone’s vaccination status. Children who aren’t yet eligible for COVID-19 vaccines fall under the vaccination status of their parents.
Snow says five days passed before she received an email notification that her children’s school had an exposure.
She hopes public reporting of exposures in schools also speeds up the notification process, which she says would have changed her family’s actions had they known about the exposure shortly after it happened.
“Five days had transpired, including the weekend, and in that time the kids went to their activities, sports, things without masks, and those actions would have been different if we had the information on hand,” Snow said.
Wozney feels the recent change in government may have caused a delay in the decision to answer calls to action to publicly report school cases.
“When there’s a change in government, there’s a lot of staff changes and sort of all the people that would have done that work, not all of them are around and there are new people learning the ropes,” he said.