A group of pediatricians, including from the IWK, are urging students and teachers to take precautions to keep themselves and their families safe from COVID-19 as they prepare to return to the classroom this week.
The Nova Scotia Pediatric Pandemic Advisory Group says masking, vaccination and hand washing have all been proven to effectively reduce transmission of infections from respiratory illnesses, including COVID-19, influenza and the common cold.
"While it is reasonable to relax some of the recommendations that were crucial during earlier waves of COVID-19, masks, vaccines and good hand washing remain our best tools to fight the spread of infection," the group of eight experts said in an open letter.
The advisory groups is recommending students and teachers wear masks under the following circumstances:
- if they are mildly unwell (i.e. runny nose), but still able to attend school.
- if they are in close contact with someone who has respiratory symptoms who can’t wear a mask.
- if they are worried about potentially bringing home respiratory viruses to family members or loved ones who are at higher risk of becoming severely ill.
- if they feel more comfortable wearing a mask for any reason.
"Schools, like hospitals, provide an essential service," the group stated. "Students and educational staff need to be healthy and able to attend so that all can benefit."
The advisory group adds anyone who is sick and/or experiencing cold or flu-like symptoms should stay home.
It also stresses good hand washing practices, especially before eating, after using the toilet and when returning home.
And it recommends getting all recommended COVID-19, influenza and other vaccinations.
"Finally, it is important to ensure that students are not bullied about whether they do or do not wear a mask," the group added. "Discuss this with your children."
"Be kind to one another, and tough on viruses."