As COVID-19 cases soar in Nova Scotia, calls continue for more transparency on COVID in classrooms.
The group Nova Scotia Parents for Public Education has worked through the school year to create a space for families to self-report cases in individual schools after the province moved away from such reporting.
"It's voluntary, so obviously it's not complete, but it allows for rapid-testing results as well as PCR results which is different from what we're seeing released by Public Health for the general community," explained NSPFPE member and parent Deborah McNamara.
The issue is again top of mind as Nova Scotia sees COVID-19 cases rise. Last week's data report showed an average of more than 1,000 new cases per day, and that only includes PCR positive tests, not rapid test results.
"There's the idea that parents don't need to know if there's COVID in schools. I've never quite believed that," McNamara said. "Obviously COVID is everywhere, we understand that, but certain families have high-risk family members or children with underlying health conditions and they'd certainly like to have a better feel for what environment they're sending their kids into.
"Not a panic situation, but certainly an informed decision-making situation."
Last week the province announced the school mask mandate would remain until at least May 20. At the time, the education minister said they've been working with Public Health to keep kids in schools throughout the pandemic.
"Our approach has allowed us to keep schools open for most of the year and allowed our students to continue in-person learning," said Becky Druhan.
But McNamara said if there are risks in schools, that information should be communicated so that families can make their own choices.
"Everyone's situation is different," McNamara said. "We hear from front line healthcare workers who are worried about getting it through their kids in school and taking it into a hospital.
"There's a lot of hoping for the best."