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Parents group wants public notification of COVID-19 cases in schools

Nova Scotia Parents for Public Education has started tracking in-school cases on its own
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UPDATE: The province says it will begin reporting the number of schools with cases of COVID-19 daily, starting tomorrow, Sept. 28

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A parents group is calling on health officials to resume notifying the public of COVID-19 cases connected to schools.

Nova Scotia Parents for Public Education (NSPFPE) has started tracking in-school cases on its own. 

Volunteers with the group rely on reports from parents, which they then share to their Facebook page. As a result, Stacey Rudderham says there has been a major spike in requests to join the social media page.

"The issue for a lot of parents is they just want the knowledge so they can make their own choices based on what's best for their families," she said. "Every family has its own circumstances, they have their own health concerns."

Rudderham said she's heard from parents who weren't aware there were cases in their children's schools.

"Not knowing is creating anxiety because we don't have the assurance that it's not in our schools, or the assurance that it's not something that's spreading in our schools," Rudderham explained.

"When you don't share information, you're just asking for people to get suspicious."

The president of the Nova Scotia Teachers' Union said last year when school-related cases were publicly reported, parents knew what to expect, but he believes this year's lack of information is eroding confidence in the system.

"They're not being clear with the public about how many cases are in schools, how many are active, how many are resolved like we had last year, and that's really driving parents to turn to social media," Paul Wozney said. "So there's a lot of I heard, they heard, my cousin Sally heard, and there's a lot of rumours circulating."

He also believes there is an inconsistency with how notifications are being handled.

"Public Health is saying the entire community is being notified by the school, but that's not the case," he said. "There are plenty of schools where the only people who know that there's a case in the school are the people that are directly contacted by Public Health, then the rest of the staff and the rest of the school community finds out through the grapevine."

Wozney added, because children under 12 are not yet eligible to get a COVID-19 vaccine, elementary schools are currently the largest daily gathering spots of unvaccinated people in the province, so he'd like to see stricter precautions stay in place once restrictions lift elsewhere.

"Until we get to that 75 per cent vaccinated rate or better in the school population, we're going to have to do things differently in the schools, and frankly they deserve to see Public Health make some adjustments that reflect an understanding that schools are not the same as other workplaces and require a different approach," he said.



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Meghan Groff

About the Author: Meghan Groff

Born in Michigan, raised in Ontario, schooled in Indiana and lives in Nova Scotia; Meghan is the editor for CityNews Halifax.
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