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Parents and teachers call for transparency from public health about school COVID-19 cases

Click to play video: 'More schools closed in Halifax area due to rising COVID-19 cases' More schools closed in Halifax area due to rising COVID-19 cases
A school in Halifax that was closed last week due to COVID-19 cases has reopened, but now two more schools are shutting down because of a rise in cases. Parents at impacted schools have been calling for closures but as Alicia Draus reports, concerns are being raised around communication and details on what it takes to shut down a school – Oct 18, 2021

For the past week, parent Jessica Morine has been calling for École Mer et Monde to close due to ongoing COVID-19 exposure notices. Since Sept. 24, the school has sent out 10 exposure notices to parents but the school has remained open.

On Thursday the school partnered with public health to host a rapid testing clinic, but Nova Scotia Health is not reporting if or how many cases were discovered as a result, noting that “cases are reported by health zones.”

Read more: Parents concerned about growing number of exposure notices at École Mer et Monde

On Sunday evening a notice went out that a different school, Dartmouth South Academy, would be closed for the week due to COVID-19. That school has sent out seven exposure notices since Oct.10.

“When I went to look, they had less exposures than our school,” said Morine.

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The Nova Scotia Teachers Union president says it’s been a concern throughout the whole pandemic.

“The ongoing anxiety that people feel about what’s going to happen next in schools is driven by the unwillingness of public health to be transparent about when are we going to move to another level of intervention of our schools,” said Paul Wozney.

Read more: COVID-19 — N.S. reports 72 new cases over past 3 days, more schools closed

After school on Monday, the province announced two more schools will be closing for the remainder of the week: Joseph Howe Elementary and École Mer et Monde.

Morine says she’s glad to finally see her daughter’s school close, but doesn’t understand why it took so long.

“At this point, I feel like it’s public health trying to save face at the expense of our children,” she said.

“They’re telling us over and over this is the safest place for our children, when clearly it is not.”

She’s calling for more transparency.

“I would like to know how they consider children a close contact, what deciding factors go into closing a school, when does it become too much and it’s considered too much of an outbreak?”

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Click to play video: 'Clayton Park school temporarily closing due to COVID-19' Clayton Park school temporarily closing due to COVID-19
Clayton Park school temporarily closing due to COVID-19 – Oct 8, 2021

NDP MLA and education critic Suzy Hansen says Morine is not alone in her calls, and that she’s hearing a lot of concerns from parents about the lack of transparency.

“Right now we want to be able to keep our children safe, so if school is where we’re sending them, we want to make sure they’re as safe as possible. The numbers right now aren’t really showing how that’s happening,” said Hansen.

The MLA for Halifax-Needham says there needs to be more clear messaging to families and that should include details on the number of cases in schools — not just the number of exposures.

“As a parent, I think we have the right to know,” said Hansen.

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