An IWK advisory group has penned an open letter, encouraging students continue to wear masks in schools even after COVID-19 restrictions lift next week.
On Thursday, the Nova Scotia Pediatric Pandemic Advisory Group released an open letter, strongly recommending wearing of masks in schools until at least mid-April, at which point it can be reassessed.
"We recognize that this has been two years of anxiety, fear, and frustration for many Nova Scotians, including our children," the statement said.
It comes after the province previously announced it would be lifting remaining COVID-19 restrictions on March 21, including mask mandates in indoor public spaces.
The advisory group said though this is welcomed news for many in the province, it's important remember masking and vaccination have been two of the cornerstones of the pandemic response.
"Schools, like hospitals, provide an essential service," the letter said. "We need our students and educational staff to be healthy and able to attend so that all can benefit."
The group went on to list a number of reasons why masking should continue in schools, citing the high number of hospitalizations, shortages of health-care staff, and evidence suggesting 3-ply masks reduce risk of COVID-19 transmission in schools.
In an emailed response to CityNews Halifax, Marla MacInnis, spokesperson for the Department of Health and Wellness, said the province agrees that masking has been an important component of the pandemic response, but did not say they would mandate masking in school settings after March 21.
"Even after restrictions lift, Public Health continues to strongly recommend that Nova Scotians make personal decisions to keep themselves safe," said MacInnis. "This includes masking, physical distancing from those outside your close social circle, proper handwashing, and ensuring you are fully vaccinated."